No Easy Passage Seen for California Climate Change Bills

Source: By Reuters • Posted: Thursday, September 10, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers negotiated frantically behind the scenes on Tuesday over the fate of several proposals to dramatically reduce the state’s use of fossil fuels and slash the amount of greenhouse gases that legally could be emitted.

The measures, part of an environmental agenda championed by state Senate Democratic Leader Kevin De Leon, aim to require public utilities in California to use renewable resources for half the energy they provide by 2030, and mandate a 50 percent cut in the use of petroleum in cars and trucks by the same year.

Another bill would mandate an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 from levels emitted in 1990.

The proposals, contained in two bills that must be passed by Friday night or die, won passage in the liberal state Senate but have met opposition from moderate Democrats in the Assembly.

Equally controversial is a proposal floated last week by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown that drivers pay $65 per year in additional fees to help pay for road repairs in the state.

That idea, discussed with Republican lawmakers who strongly oppose a fee but whose votes would be needed, has not yet been formally written into a bill.

The various proposals have prompted opposition from oil companies and others.

“This law will limit how often we can drive our own cars,” says a Western States Petroleum Association ad in opposition to De Leon’s bill to cut gas and diesel use. It warns of a future in which the state will monitor how far people drive, and fine them for using too much gas. Other ads warn of gasoline rationing.

De Leon, who like other lawmakers would not talk about the proposals on Tuesday while sensitive negotiations were taking place, has said his proposal would not ration gasoline or monitor people in their cars.

The deadline for bills passing the legislature’s regular session is Friday night. A special session on the state’s transportation system could continue longer, but lawmakers have not yet said they would do so.

(Editing by Will Dunham)