Gov. Jerry Brown is asking the Legislature to extend the state’s cap-and-trade program by voting Monday on two bills that he said he will sign only if both are passed. But lawmakers should say no to that deal.
In his argument to this editorial board, Brown cited statistics on childhood asthma and projections of rising sea levels due to climate change. The solution to the first ought not to be held hostage to the renewal of a program that aims to prevent the second.
The health effects of air pollution in disproportionately affected communities is a problem that deserves attention. Assembly Bill 617 would begin a program of neighborhood air quality monitoring in pollution “hot spots,” in addition to the current system of monitoring multi-county regions. The bill needs a majority vote to pass.
But Brown will sign AB617 only if the Legislature also passes AB398, which needs a two-thirds vote because it has been designated an urgency bill, and also to avoid future litigation challenging it as an illegally passed tax. AB398 extends the state’s cap-and-trade program, currently set to expire in 2020, until 2030. The bill also includes some side deals, including the abolition of a controversial fire tax.
This is all much too rushed. The package, unveiled only Monday after being assembled behind closed doors, originally was to be voted on Thursday night. The vote was delayed by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, according to their joint statement, to “allow our discussion on long-term housing affordability solutions in California to catch up to the climate effort.” By Monday, major legislation on affordable housing could be tacked onto this package. That kind of sudden governance is not good governance.
California’s cap-and-trade program was created under AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. It mandated the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, since tightened to a target of 40…