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California votes to extend cap and trade

California votes to extend cap and trade
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California lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to extend the state's cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases through 2030.

The bipartisan, supermajority votes in both the state Assembly and Senate late Monday gave a major victory to Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who has been pushing hard to extend the landmark climate change program in the world’s sixth largest economy.

It also serves as a significant example of California’s willingness to fight climate change while the Trump administration and congressional Republicans work to dismantle Obama-era climate policies.

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“Californians understand that we can’t truly have a healthy economy that’s built to last without taking meaningful steps to protect public health and preserve a livable environment,” Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D) said in a statement.

“This deal strikes that balance and shows once again California is more than ready to step up and lead where Washington will not,” he said.

The state GOP support was key to reaching a supermajority vote.

“California Republicans are different than national Republicans,” Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Many of us believe that climate change is real and that it’s a responsibility we have to work to address it.”

The vote was 55 to 21 in the Assembly and 28 to 12 in the Senate.

The program earlier this year survived a court challenge from business interests who argued it is a tax and requires a two-thirds vote from both chambers. Brown sought the supermajority vote as insurance against a future challenge along those lines.

The legislation had support from numerous environmental and other interest groups.

But some greens opposed it due to the compromises made with industry. For example, the bill restricts the state’s ability to further regulate certain facilities that already are under the cap-and-trade system.

“California can do better,” Masada Disenhouse, organizing coordinator at 350.org, said in a statement. “This plan has Big Oil’s fingerprints all over it and doesn’t do enough to protect vulnerable communities or to achieve California’s ambitious targets for reducing carbon pollution.”

The bill now goes to Brown’s desk for his signature.

Legislators also approved a bill Monday meant to reduce other air pollutants, including those thought to cause or exacerbate asthma.