Arbitrary Greenhouse Gas Target Passes Committee

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Legislation establishing an arbitrary greenhouse gas target and identified by the California Chamber of Commerce as a 2023 Job Killer passed a Senate policy committee this week. SB 12 (Stern; D-Canoga Park) would require statewide greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to at least 55% below the 1990 level by December 31, 2030. This would be a dramatic increase from the state’s current goal of 40% during the same time frame.

The bill passed the Senate Environmental Quality Committee with opponents and even one supporter acknowledging the bill could hurt Californians by increasing costs.

“California businesses and residents suffer from an affordability crisis, created in large part by the state’s escalating energy costs,” said CalChamber Policy Advocate Brady Van Engelen. “At a time when Californians are suffering from nearly record high prices on many essential goods from groceries to gas, increasing costs is the wrong approach to take. We support climate change laws and regulations that are cost-effective, technology-neutral and promote the use of market-based strategies. SB 12 does not take any of these into account and will lead to excessive costs, hurt California residents and businesses, and severely damage the state’s economy.”

California has some of the highest commercial and industrial electricity rates and highest gasoline and diesel prices in the country.

In addition to CalChamber, to date, 20 other organizations are voicing strong opposition to the measure. In a coalition letter sent to Senator Stern on March 13, the groups argue that SB 12 undermines the existing public and transparent process that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) recently adopted, where hundreds of stakeholders engaged in a months-long inclusive Scoping Plan review.

During that process, stakeholders made clear that the transition to a clean energy future will require a deliberate and thoughtful approach to ensure the state is appropriately balancing affordability with reliability.

According to data released by CARB, increasing the greenhouse gas 2030 emissions target from 40% to 55% below the 1990 level would require the state to remove an additional 17 million gasoline-powered vehicles from the road by 2030. CARB’s own modeling of scenarios that mirror what is proposed in SB 12 have shown the bill will be “economically and technically infeasible due to the current lack of low-carbon energy infrastructure, unavailability of technology, large job loss and high implementation costs.”

Staff Contact: Brady Van Engelen

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Brady Van Engelen joined the CalChamber in November 2022 as a policy advocate. He led CalChamber advocacy on climate change, energy, environmental regulation and transportation matters until May 31, 2024. Before joining the CalChamber policy team, Van Engelen served as a senior policy manager at Bloom Energy, representing the company before the California Legislature and California Public Utilities Commission. He previously was a gubernatorial appointee to the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) and served as special assistant to the state oil and gas supervisor. Van Engelen also was defense legislative assistant to then-U.S. Senator John Kerry and prior to working on Capitol Hill, worked in policy and advocacy roles at Veterans For America. Van Engelen served in the U.S. Army from 2002 to 2005, and received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He earned a master’s degree in government from Johns Hopkins University, and has an M.B.A. from the University of California, Davis.