State lawmakers vote to extend cap-and-trade program

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SACRAMENTO -- State lawmakers approved Monday two climate change bills, including one which would extend Governor Jerry Brown's cap-and-trade program from 2020 to 2030.

Last week, the governor passionately defended the cap-and-trade program, urging state lawmakers to pass a pair of climate change bills, FOX 40 reported.

"Tonight, California stood tall and once again, boldly confronted the existential threat of our time," Governor Brown said in a statement sent by his press office. "Republicans and Democrats set aside their differences, came together and took courageous action. That’s what good government looks like."

Assembly Bill 617, a measure to tackle local air pollution, required just a majority vote -- 41 votes in the Assembly and 21 in the Senate. It passed with 27 votes to 13 votes in the Senate.

Assembly Bill 398, the measure to reauthorize cap-and-trade, has passed. It had the support of 26 Democratic senators and one Republican senator. To pass with a supermajority, the bill needed 27 votes in the Senate and 54 in the Assembly.

Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego)'s statement:

“As the author of the City of San Diego’s groundbreaking climate action plan, I have always believed that the threat of climate change is real and it requires urgent action for the sake of all humanity.

While the Trump Administration works to roll back gains at the national and international level, California must take up the mantle of global leadership in the fight against climate change. When we see the impacts of our changing climate virtually every day and working families are subjected to toxic emissions from polluters, we simply cannot look the other way and fail to act.

California’s cap-and-trade program is the most effective and cost efficient state solution we have to combat climate change and it is being replicated by others around the world. More importantly, the legislation approved today will maintain our progress, help keep utility costs low for working families through household climate credits, create more clean energy jobs for the middle-class, and enable us to continue reaching our greenhouse gas reduction targets.”

Democrats hold those exact numbers in both houses, but in the Assembly at least one member, Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), will be out all week. Her office said her absence is due to a long-standing family commitment, for which she got permission to be excused in January.

That means Gov. Brown needs at least one Republican on his side. He may have that ally in Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, a Republican from Oceanside.

"You know, global warming has become a partisan issue," Chavez said. As a Republican who believes in science, I don't have that hurdle to overcome."

Several environmental groups have voiced their opposition, saying the governor's bills aren't aggressive enough.

"Here in California we're supposed to be so progressive, but our governor continues to do favors for the oil and gas industries, and it needs to stop," said Adam Scow with Food & Water Watch.

Assemblyman Chavez said cap-and-trade's market-based approach is far better than a potential regulatory, state-run air quality board.

"In my life experiences, when you have one side on the left really upset, and you have another side on the right very upset, you probably have the right balance," Chavez said.