By Doug Porter
Senate Bill 32 was approved by the California legislature last week along with a companion bill (AB 197), putting the Golden State on a path to further reducing greenhouse gas emissions past the end of the decade.
Gov. Jerry Brown fought long and hard for the legislation mandating an additional 40 percent cut in emissions by 2030. The state is already on track to meeting the goal, set by AB 32 in 2006, to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions back down to 1990 levels by the year 2020.
Not included in the new legislation was extending the state’s cap-and-trade program, arguably a more flexible, lower-cost policy tool to cut emissions. As things stand now, the future of the program is uncertain, as the California’s Chamber of Commerce is in court seeking to overturn the program on the basis that it needed two-thirds approval.
The Governor maintains that SB 32 and AB 197 will provide the leverage he needs to reach a deal with businesses that would prefer a market-based program like cap-and-trade over tougher mandates to cut pollution. Brown says he will put the matter of the program’s future on the 2017 ballot if he has to.
The passage of higher standards for emission reductions was eased by SB 32’s companion bill.
From Capital & Main:
…SB 32 was tied to another measure, Assembly Bill 197, which was designed to quell the fears of the moderate Democrats. Each bill required passage of the other.
AB 197 was authored by former SB 32-doubting freshman Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella). Garcia, like many legislators and public interest groups, was concerned that high-profile emission-reduction programs did little to address the effects of climate change in the hardest-hit communities, such as neighborhoods next to refineries or ports or farming regions, where air quality is often the worst.
Cap-and-trade, for instance, allows big polluters to pollute as long as they pay for credits or offsets purchased in other parts of the state or country. AB 197 requires that the California Air Resources Board, which directs implementation of emission-reduction programs, should target direct reductions at both stationary and mobile sources in those communities. Such direct reductions are bitterly opposed by oil interests and heavy industry.
A Serious Reduction Scenario
Vox.com has a decent explainer about strategies for further reductions in emissions, drawing on research by Jeffery Greenblatt of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He created three models to see what effect various state actions might have. Only one, called Scenario 3, achieved the goals set forth by the legislature for 2030.
Add it up and scenario S3 is serious business. We’re talking about a world where California gets more than 50 percent of its electricity from renewables in 2030 (up from 25 percent today), where zero-emissions vehicles are 25 percent of the fleet by 2035 (up from about 1 percent today), where high-speed rail is displacing car travel, where biodiesel has mostly replaced diesel in heavy-duty trucks, where pastures are getting converted to forests, where electricity replaces natural gas in heating, and on and on.
Possible? Sure. Easy? Hardly. The level of effort is just orders of magnitude different from anything California has done so far.
The Vox story, written by Brad Plumer, concludes:
California is essentially offering itself as a guinea pig in the world’s most important policy experiment. Everyone else will be watching and learning from the state’s successes and failures — whether it can develop the needed clean tech, whether it can spur innovation, whether it can control costs and navigate political opposition, whether it can rejigger the grid to accommodate enormous quantities of renewable power. No pressure!
Overcoming the Odds
The Dirty Energy industry fought passage of this most recent legislation.
As business leader and environmental philanthropist Tom Steyer wrote in the Sacramento Bee:
The passage of SB 32 was far from a sure thing. The oil industry spends millions of dollars every year to pressure state government to put its profit margins before the health of California’s people. The oil industry is one of the biggest moneyed influences in the state Capitol, spending more than $38 million on lobbying and campaign contributions since the start of 2015. Too often, their fear and pressure tactics succeed.
Last year, SB 32 stalled under a barrage of oil industry spending. This year, despite spending $6.4 million on lobbying in the first half of the year and flooding Sacramento with misleading ads, its strategy failed. Nineteen lawmakers who didn’t vote for SB 32 last year supported it this year.
They were not persuaded by sweet strains from woodwind instruments, as one legislator on the losing side suggested. They were responding to the increasingly urgent need to address pollution and climate change before it’s too late. They were recognizing the fact that the clean energy economy has already created 500,000 jobs in our state – and will create many more.
Steyer got his jobs figure from a recently released analysis from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a non-partisan business group.
From the DeSmogBlog:
…AB 32 and related climate policies have pumped some $48 billion into the state economy over the past decade while helping create about 500,000 jobs.
The emissions targets established by AB 32 and the programs that were created to achieve them have funded solar, wind and energy efficiency projects in communities across California and given clean energy investors and companies confidence in the state’s energy market. The upshot, E2 found, is that every single one of the state’s 80 Assembly districts have benefitted from the Golden State’s climate leadership over the past decade.
Vulnerable Issa Targeted by Democrats
On Sunday, the New York Times ran an article detailing a recent Democratic gathering upstate, and included Rep. Darrell Issa’s name among nine suburban Republican districts that might actually swing Democratic in 2016.
Emboldened by Donald J. Trump’s struggles in the presidential race, Democrats in Congress are laying the groundwork to expand the list of House Republicans they will target for defeat as part of an effort to slash the Republicans’ 30-seat majority and even reclaim control if Mr. Trump falls further…
…Few Democrats say they believe their party is positioned, at this point, to take control of the House, where Republicans hold their largest majority in 87 years. Because of the way congressional districts are drawn, Republicans have a powerful structural advantage even in a punishing political environment …
…Democratic strategists say they believe as many as a dozen districts could become competitive late in the race, depending on Mr. Trump’s fortunes. Among the Republican districts that Democrats see as newly threatened are those held by Representatives John L. Mica of Florida, who represents the Orlando area; Kevin Yoder of Kansas, from the suburbs of Kansas City; and Michael G. Fitzpatrick, a lawmaker from outside Philadelphia who is retiring. Several others represent diverse, economically comfortable areas of California, including Representatives Darrell E. Issa and Ed Royce, from the San Diego and Los Angeles suburbs.
Issa’s name also came up via local Democratic chair Francine Busby in a Voice of San Diego article on local partisan priorities (Measure K, along with Mara Elliott’s campaign for City Attorney, were the primary topics.)
The party is also expecting major assistance from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, to support Doug Applegate’s bid to unseat Rep. Darrell Issa in North County’s 49th Congressional District. She said to expect lots of national money to show up in the next round of financial disclosures.
Issa is being challenged by retired Marine Col. Doug Applegate in the 49th Congressional district.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Democrats began working to tie Republicans to Mr. Trump well before he became the party’s standard-bearer, and have only intensified their efforts since.
“Donald Trump’s toxic candidacy has poisoned every California Republican, and it’s only getting worse,” said Barb Solish, a spokeswoman for House Democrats’ campaign arm. “Every time Trump opens his mouth, Denham, Knight, Valadao, and Issa’s chances of re-election go down.”
Republican incumbents have diverged on whether to formally back Mr. Trump and how forcefully to push back on his most provocative statements. Mr. Issa has endorsed Mr. Trump after having first backed Mr. Rubio for president. The lawmaker spoke at a Trump rally in San Diego in May and backed him as a delegate at the GOP convention last month.
TPP Opponents, Take Note
Part One of Chris Hamby’s expose, published at Buzzfeed News, peels back the secrecy surrounding the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) built into various trade agreements, including NAFTA.
The muliti-part series is based on an 18-month investigation, spanning three continents and involving more than 200 interviews and tens of thousands of documents, many of them previously confidential.
Imagine a private, global super court that empowers corporations to bend countries to their will.
Say a nation tries to prosecute a corrupt CEO or ban dangerous pollution. Imagine that a company could turn to this super court and sue the whole country for daring to interfere with its profits, demanding hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars as retribution.
Imagine that this court is so powerful that nations often must heed its rulings as if they came from their own supreme courts, with no meaningful way to appeal. That it operates unconstrained by precedent or any significant public oversight, often keeping its proceedings and sometimes even its decisions secret. That the people who decide its cases are largely elite Western corporate attorneys who have a vested interest in expanding the court’s authority because they profit from it directly, arguing cases one day and then sitting in judgment another. That some of them half-jokingly refer to themselves as “The Club” or “The Mafia.”
Three instances of criminal conduct are profiled. A multi-million dollar scam in Egypt by a Dubai real estate mogul, lead poisoning by a factory in El Salvador, and a $300 million embezzlement from an bank in Indonesia all ended up with no consequences, thanks to legal strategies invoking little-known treaty terms.
And then there’s this:
When the US Congress votes on whether to give final approval to the sprawling Trans-Pacific Partnership, which President Barack Obama staunchly supports, it will be deciding on a massive expansion of ISDS. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton oppose the overall treaty, but they have focused mainly on what they say would be the loss of American jobs. Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, has voiced concern about ISDS in particular, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren has lambasted it. Last year, members of both houses of Congress tried to keep it out of the Pacific trade deal. They failed.
Blue Monday for the Homeless
— Michael McConnell (@HomelessnessSD) August 29, 2016
On This Day: 1965 – Gemini 5, carrying astronauts Gordon Cooper and Charles (“Pete”) Conrad, splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean after eight days in space. 1966 – The Beatles ended their fourth American tour at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. It turned out that the show was their last public concert. 1996 – Dancers at San Francisco’s Lusty Lady Club voted 57-15 to be represented by SEIU Local 790. Their first union contract, ratified eight months later, guaranteed work shifts, protection against arbitrary discipline and termination, automatic hourly wage increases, sick days, a grievance procedure, and removal of one-way mirrors from peep show booths.
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