Assembly Advances Climate Change Goals, Air Quality Provisions Added Tools Added to Promote CA’s Leadership Role in Climate Protection

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

(Sacramento) – California’s position as a leader in addressing climate change advanced further with the successful passage of three Assembly bills in the Natural Resources Committee.  The bills continue to put California at the forefront of fact-based climate change policy that is the most progressive in the nation and builds upon landmark legislation the Governor signed in 2015.

California has made tremendous progress in the last ten years in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to a clean energy economy.  However, in order to meet 2030 targets which include deeper reductions and investments, the legislature has sought a solution that that provides compliance flexibility, without sacrificing climate and air quality goals in the communities that are most impacted and shared equitably by all.  The three bills recently passed by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee diversify the tools available to advance climate equity for all Californians.

“There's a lot of talk about how ambitious our climate goals are, and how far we have to go.  And that's true,” said Assemblywomen Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Chair of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.  “But, I also want to emphasize how challenging our air quality goals are as well, and the devastating effect poor air quality has had on my community and many others around the state.  AB 378 addresses these concerns without sacrificing climate and air quality goals in the communities that are most impacted.”

Assembly Bill 378 extends cap and trade through 2030, removing previous uncertainty about whether cap and trade will be part of the mix of measures the Air Resources Board (ARB) uses to meet the 40% reduction target established last year by SB 32 and AB 197.  This would meaningfully integrate cap and trade with air quality for the first time in the nation. 

The bill also sets a baseline for greenhouse gas emissions and prohibits existing facilities in cap and trade from increasing emissions above this baseline going forward.  Lastly, it sets minimum standards for air pollution control, to be determined by ARB and air districts, and requires each industrial facility to pass these standards in order to receive the benefit of free emissions allowances from the ARB after 2020.

“AB 378 would bring relief to Californians suffering from industrial air pollution by assuring that the state’s important climate change programs are also achieving air quality and other environmental and public health goals,” said Bill Magavern, Policy Director for the Coalition for Clean Air.

Another bill, AB 151, by Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood), authorizes the extension of the cap and trade program and increases legislative oversight of the ARB by requiring it to receive the legislature’s input prior to adopting regulations for the Scoping Plan and the 2030 climate goals.   The bill further requires the ARB to prepare a report for the legislature with policy guidance and recommendations on the need for increased education, career technical education, job training, and workforce development in furtherance of the state’s climate goals.

Lastly, the bill establishes the Compliance Offsets Protocol Task Force to advise the ARB on the development of new offset protocols and work collaboratively to establish a multi-tiered system to incentivize offset credits in disadvantaged communities throughout the state.

“Meaningful change is essential in our attempt to extend the cap and trade program. With the passage of AB 151 and the broader climate policy package through the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, we are one step closer to that change. Cap and trade is an important tool to get us to our 2020 target and our 2030 goal.  It is important that we update the current program, eliminate any legal uncertainty, all while addressing the economic wellbeing and health of our constituents. The rest of the world is watching and we need to get this right,” said Assemblywoman Autumn Burke.

Finally, AB 398, by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), expands the reporting requirements of the Climate Change Report Card to include key economic and community development outcomes that are the result of state agencies expending moneys from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF). This data will benefit fact-based policy and funding delivery to the communities most in need.

“In order for California to remain an economic and environmental leader we must also lead on issues related to equity. AB 398 will expand the Climate Change Report Card’s reporting requirements to provide greater transparency as we strive to reduce our carbon footprint and improve air quality. Not only does my district suffer horrific child asthma rates but we also hold the state’s second highest unemployment numbers. This measure will connect socioeconomically, and environmentally distressed areas to job training and employment opportunities needed to build a robust, clean, green economy. I look forward to working with my Assembly colleagues to embrace comprehensive climate polices that direct investments into the Californian communities that need it the most,” exclaimed Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia.

The California Global Solutions Act required the ARB develop regulations and market mechanisms to reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year of 2020.  As the deadline approaches in just three years, stakeholders see an opportunity to address areas where current policy has fallen short.

"The reality is that most people in California believe and desire climate change policies that not only reduce GHG's but are also ensuring we have clean air and protect the health of all Californians,” added Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia. “Together these three bills would not only ensure we are both reducing GHG’s and providing cleaner air, but they’re also ensuring all Californians enjoy the benefits of our green economy now and in the future."

All three bills will next be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

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The 58th Assembly District includes the cities of Montebello, Pico Rivera, Commerce, Bell Gardens, Downey, Norwalk, Bellflower, Cerritos and Artesia.