Cap and trade: Deal reached on California climate program

Katy Murphy, THE SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS

Gov. Jerry Brown and top lawmakers late Monday announced a proposal to extend through the next decade California’s landmark program to regulate climate-warming greenhouse gases — known as cap and trade — which is set to expire in 2020.

Also unveiled late Monday was a separate bill to clean up the air in chronically polluted areas — to reduce harmful emissions from factories and plants as well as from cars and trucks.

“The Legislature is taking action to curb climate change and protect vulnerable communities from industrial poisons,” Brown said in a statement released late Monday night.

The two bills were revealed after weeks of talks between Brown, Republican and Democratic lawmakers and environmental and industry groups.

Lawmakers won’t be able to vote on the proposals before Thursday because of a ballot measure Californians passed in November requiring a bill to be in print for 72 hours before the state Assembly or Senate can vote on it. The bills are:

Assembly Bill 398 — for which Brown and legislative leaders aim to secure a two-thirds vote — would extend the cap-and-trade program to 2031.

Assembly Bill 617, which needs only a simple majority vote to pass, responds to activists’ demands to clean up the pollution that for generations has plagued residents in parts of the state. It would require oil refineries and other plants in heavily polluted areas to replace their equipment with cleaner technology by the end of 2023.

Among the proposed changes to the complex cap-and-trade program — in which refineries, power plants and factories pay to pollute, buying permits at auction — is a hard limit, or “ceiling,” on the price of carbon. Proponents of the change argue that it would prevent spikes in energy prices.

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