SACRAMENTO — In the face of intense lobbying from the oil industry, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders on Wednesday dropped their attempt to pass a law mandating a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in the state over the next 15 years.
Despite the defeat, Brown vowed to press forward on the regulatory front, saying his administration next week will release “tougher, more refined goals” to implement the state’s existing low-carbon fuel standards.
“What is at stake is a fundamental turn in the way the modern economy functions,” he said. “We don’t expect to win every skirmish. This is a titanic struggle that will go on for years and decades.”
With the oil-use provision removed, legislative leaders said they are confident lawmakers will approve the remaining provisions of SB 350, requiring that the state produce half its electrical power from renewable sources and that the energy efficiency of existing buildings be doubled, both by 2030.
The requirement for reducing petroleum consumption triggered a multimillion-dollar lobbying and advertising campaign by the oil industry over the past two months, including ads that asserted the bill could force gas rationing and other drastic measures.
At least partly as a result of that campaign, support for the bill in the Assembly evaporated and there was no hope it could be passed before the Legislature adjourns for the year on Friday.
Brown said it is imperative that policymakers in California and around the globe take steps to “decarbonize the economy” to slow global climate change, which he called “an existential threat to your children. It’s going to be devastating.”
An industry group that lobbied heavily against the bill reacted by saying California businesses will continue to work to achieve the state’s climate-change goals without doing harm to the state’s economy.
“California businesses, including energy companies, are doing more than businesses in any other state or country by complying with the more than 65 existing climate-change programs to address our emission reduction goals,” said Rob Lapsley, spokesman for Californians for Affordable and Reliable Energy.
“The issue today is how we achieve future goals while balancing costs to all Californians and protecting our economy.”
The high-profile fight over the proposal could ultimately help to focus public attention on climate-change issues, Brown said, because it created the kind of “big brouhaha” that generates media coverage.
He said he had hoped the bill would provide “a formal statement in law” of a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use. The regulations adopted by the state Air Resources Board in implementing the state’s existing laws requiring reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions and the development of low-carbon fuels will still move the state toward that goal, he noted.
“California is not going to miss a beat,” he said. “The only difference is my zeal has been intensified to a maximum degree.”
In negotiations over the bill last week, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, had offered amendments to reform the Air Resources Board and its policies, but those provisions have now been dropped.
“We did not cave in to stop the power of the Air Resources Board to enforce AB 32,” Brown said, referring to the law requiring that greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. “We’re not selling out the climate regime of California to get the bill passed.”
This article was written by Timm Herdt from Ventura County Star and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.