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California’s Path to Climate Nirvana Hits Some Snags

Legislation to complete California’s transformation into climate nirvana hit some snags this week.  On Wednesday, 9th September, State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) and Governor Jerry Brown (D) announced that a provision to require that California petroleum consumption by motor vehicles be reduced by 50% by 2030 would be taken out of SB 350, a major piece of climate legislation.

On Thursday, State Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) announced that she was withdrawing a companion bill, SB 32, that would have put into law executive orders by Governor Brown and his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), that set long-term mandatory targets for reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

SB 350 was passed out of the Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee late Thursday without the provision cutting gas use and is scheduled for a floor vote on Friday.  The California legislature’s current session ends Friday, so it’s not clear as I write whether the bill will make it through.  SB 350 still contains provisions requiring that half of the state’s electricity be produced by renewable sources by 2030 and that energy efficiency be doubled in all existing buildings by 2030.  State Senator de Leon claims that California’s electric utilities support the bill, as well as Halle Berry, Billy Crystal, Matt Damon, Jane Fonda, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Mark Ruffalo, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Katy Grimes in California’s essential political blog, the Flash Report, noted that: “Following the press conference, de Leon was seen at a political event arriving and departing in a large, black, gas-guzzling SUV, rather than using an electric car, Toyota Prius or Nissan Leaf. Apparently climate change doesn’t begin with the state’s leadership.” State Senator Pavley was the chief sponsor of AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which was enacted while she was serving in the State Assembly.