California's Air Resources Board on Tuesday released a plan to extend the state's cap-and-trade program, which seeks to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by companies and manufacturers. If it manages to secure legislative approval, the plan would extend the four-year-old program -- which has been a key part of Gov. Jerry Brown's effort to fight climate change -- beyond 2020. "The governor is doing his job," Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León told reporters Tuesday. "Now it's time that the Legislature do its job by making sure that we bring predictability, that we stabilize the markets, that we continue to invest in vulnerable communities throughout the state of California." The cap-and-trade program sets an upper limit on how much greenhouse gas can be emitted by companies, forcing them to buy credits, each allowing 1 ton of additional emission, or cut down on emissions to stay within the limit.
FILE - In this Tuesday, June 13, 2017, file photo, California Gov. Jerry Brown discusses climate change at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. Brown, lawmakers, business groups and environmentalists are working to reach a deal on extending cap and trade, California's landmark program aimed at slowing global warming. If a deal is inked, the Legislature can take a vote next Monday, July 10, before Democratic Assemblymen Jimmy Gomez heads to Congress on July 11 and takes a reliable vote for cap-and-trade with him.
California made no secret of its ambitions when it enacted a landmark law on global warming just over a decade ago. Progress here on slashing greenhouse gas emissions, the law said, would have "far-reaching effects by encouraging other states, the federal government and other countries to act." Now the goal has become more critical than ever as President Trump rolls back national environmental regulations. No matter how hard California pushes, the country will fall short of its obligations under the Paris agreement on climate change unless more states try to keep pace. So far, experts say, not enough is being done.
A month after a bruising political battle to extend California's cap-and-trade program, the state received a big vote of confidence in the policy's future. Cap and trade requires oil refineries, food processors and other facilities to buy permits to release greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, and state regulators auction off the permits several times a year. During August's auction, every emission permit offered by the state was sold, and prices reached their highest level since the program launched five years ago. The auction results, announced Tuesday, were the first since Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation continuing cap and trade until 2030, erasing some of the political and legal uncertainty that had dogged the program. "Today's results affirm the courage of the votes taken to secure the future of cap and trade in California," Erica Morehouse, a lawyer with the Environmental Defense Fund, wrote on her organization's website.