Climate Change: CalChamber Stops, Delays or Amends All But 1 Bill Before It Passes

ClimateChangeAs the Senate and Assembly cleared their desks for this legislative session, the California Chamber of Commerce weighed in on 18 climate change bills; only one still opposed by the CalChamber has advanced to the Governor.

Of the two proposals designated as job killers, amendments on one led to the removal of both CalChamber opposition and the job killer label. Further action on the second job killer bill has been deferred to next year.

Amendments led to the removal of CalChamber opposition on six other climate change bills, while another seven bills missed deadlines to advance this year. Two CalChamber-supported bills were not passed by the Legislature.

CalChamber supports the goals of AB 32; however, it is critical that any legislation seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including policies dealing with cap-and-trade, renewable energy mandates and low-carbon fuels, is implemented with the least harm to the economy.

In addition, CalChamber wants to ensure that any policies to extend current climate change programs beyond 2020 do so with the aid of independent rigorous analysis to understand what has and has not worked before moving forward.

Job Killer Label Removed

SB 350 (de León; D-Los Angeles) was amended on September 10 to remove the petroleum mandate and make various changes to the Renewable Portfolio Standard as well as energy efficiency goals.

Through those amendments, the CalChamber was able to remove the job killer label and move to no position on the bill.

As sent to the Governor, SB 350 requires that 50% of the state’s energy come from renewable resources and calls for a doubling of the energy efficiency savings in electricity and natural gas end users, both by 2030.

It is anticipated that the Governor will sign SB 350.

One of the amendments on September 10 sets up a process by which the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), manager of the state’s electric grid and wholesale power markets, can evolve into a regional organization that has the potential to reduce energy costs by enabling Western states to join California in coordinating electricity systems.

Delayed to 2016

SB 32 (Pavley; D-Agoura Hills), also a job killer bill, was moved from the Assembly Floor back to the Assembly Natural Resources Committee after failing to pass on a 30-35 vote. SB 32 may be acted on in 2016.

The bill initially required greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 without regard to the impact on individuals, jobs or the economy.

A September 10 amendment removed the 2050 mandate, but leaves the bill problematic with cost impacts for consumers and businesses, as well as California Environmental Quality Act implications for projects.

Supported Legislation

Two CalChamber-supported bills to improve the regulatory environment surrounding the climate change program, unfortunately failed to pass:

AB 21 (Perea; D-Fresno) would have created certainty for businesses in the state and increased regulatory oversight in the climate change program by requiring the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to recommend goals for a 2030 greenhouse gas reduction that would have to be achieved in a cost-effective manner.

AB 720 (Cooley; D-Rancho Cordova) would have reduced the potential for market manipulation and reduced unnecessary burdens to regulated entities by providing necessary adjustments to the cap-and-trade regulations.

Opposition Removed

Amendments led to the CalChamber removing opposition to:

AB 1496 (Thurmond; D-Richmond) Before amendments, increased costs and created duplicative regulations by mandating additional studies to reclassify methane as a precursor to air pollution and life cycle analysis of methane to be conducted by CARB.

SB 379 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) Before amendments, would have created an additional parallel process, with unclear definitions, in order to incorporate adaptation and resiliency into the planning process.

Failed Deadline

Held in the Senate fiscal committee suspense file was CalChamber-opposed SB 180 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara), which increases the cost of energy and threatens grid reliability by overhauling the state’s power plant emissions performance standard by tightening the current program and expanding the regulation to “peaker” plants, which are integral to incorporating renewable onto the grid.

Auction Expenditure Legislation

The CalChamber opposed numerous bills allocating spending from the cap-and-trade program based on CARB’s lack of authority to impose an auction.

The CalChamber has challenged CARB’s authority to conduct a revenue-raising auction of carbon allowances, in violation of Proposition 13, for its cap-and-trade program in a lawsuit pending before the 3rd District Court of Appeal.

Just one bill prematurely authorizing AB 32 auction revenues to fund various projects has gone to the Governor, SB 101 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review).

The six proposals that missed deadlines to advance this year aimed to spend the auction revenues on things like projects for disadvantaged communities, funding the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, farm projects to increase carbon storage in agricultural soils and woody biomass, replacing school buses or funding the State Highway Account.

Four auction expenditure proposals amended to remove CalChamber opposition would have used auction revenues for similar projects.

Status Report

See the “Climate Change” and “Energy” sections of the CalChamber status update report on major legislation for a more detailed listing of the bills in this story.

Staff Contact: Amy Mmagu