California lawmakers advance aggressive climate change plans

California lawmakers on Wednesday pushed through an ambitious climate change package to further reduce the state's carbon footprint and boost the use of renewable energy to 50 percent in 15 years.

The state Senate passed proposals to enact Gov. Jerry Brown's call to curb greenhouse gas emissions by setting what the administration calls the most aggressive benchmark in North America over the objection of Republicans who characterized such regulation as coastal elitism that would kill working-class jobs.

California aims to boost statewide renewable electricity use to 50 percent, have drivers use half as much gasoline and make buildings twice as efficient under the proposal by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles. His bill, SB350, advanced to the Assembly on a 24-14 vote.

"California has demonstrated our global climate leadership over the last decade," de Leon said, adding, "These policies will further cement our leadership, further strengthen our economy while protect the health of our communities."

Senate Democrats also approved an overarching proposal to further reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

The goal is a mile marker on the way to cutting emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 that was set by Brown's predecessor, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

SB32 by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, passed the Senate on a 22-15 vote.

"It is a big number—science-based number, however," Pavley said, "what we have to do without reaching the tipping point regarding global climate change."

California, which already has an aggressive plan to combat global warming, currently is on track to meet a goal of cutting carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, partly by forcing companies to pay for their pollution.

The state's cap-and-trade program, launched nearly three years ago, offers one of the few real-world laboratories on how to reduce heat-trapping emissions. It expanded this year to levy fees on companies that produce gasoline and other fuels, prompting predictions that consumers will see a spike in prices to cover the costs.

Pavley's bill incorporates an executive order Brown issued in April to further emissions reductions—the equivalent of taking 36 million cars off the road, more than all the vehicles registered in California last year.

While the executive order lacked details, state officials have said it would require accelerated development of renewable energy and alternative fuel sources, and getting more electric cars and zero-emission heavy-duty trucks on the road.

GOP members said the package would mean the government will pick economic winners and losers, raise utility and gasoline prices, and drive out good-paying jobs just so California can feel good about leading an environmental fight.

They also said there is inadequate oversight of the rule-setting process.

"This is really a stab in the dark, and it's unknown," said Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar. "Every new technology that has driven California has been when government got out of the way."

Democrats argued that it's not a choice between jobs and the environment. Rather, they say fostering clean-energy jobs will mean more people will drive electric vehicles and have solar panels on their homes.

Pavley, who authored the state's 2006 global warming law, said more than $30 billion in venture capital has flowed into California as a result of establishing a marketplace for the private sector to compete.

The California Assembly also moved Wednesday on two climate change bills that are narrower in scope.

One bill, AB1288, would allow the state Air Resources Board to continue conducting market-based regulations beyond its 2020 authority, while the other, AB645, called for the state to require at least half of all energy come from wind, solar and other renewable sources by 2050.

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California ramps up efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions

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Jun 04, 2015
Jerry Brown saved us from the ravages of what Reagan did to California. By having the utilities reduce the waste in the facilities of our customers in the 1980s, we had sufficient power to continue growing.

Jun 06, 2015
California cuts its carbon footprint primarily by indirectly exporting manufacturing elsewhere while importing as much as 30% of its electrical energy from other states. That's really not fixing the problem, rather transporting it elsewhere. It looks good on paper so long as you don't get into the detail.

Jun 06, 2015
California also sells to those states in the Winter.

10% of the US population now lives here, to my dismay, and we have to deal with it, which we are. What would you do?

And our Carbon Footprint in energy has always been very small except in transportation, where we have insufficient or no high-speed rail. But we are selling our electric vehicles and PV solar systems all over the United States.

It was a good thing for the nation to have the Tesla battery plant moved to essentially nowhere. They are sufficiently intelligent and aware to find ways to be as non-intrusive as possible, to have energy-efficient structures and systems, even as they grow.

It will be a wonderful object lesson in practicality, and a trial of alternative paths for us to take.

Jun 07, 2015
How much of the increased energy and water use of the state is due to illegal immigrants, formerly illegal immigrants allowed in under Reagan's "one-time" amnesty, and immigrants allowed in under the post-1960s immigration "reform" that wouldn't have been allowed in under the earlier statute? From 1960 - 2010 the non-Hispanic White population didn't increase much - from about 14M to 15M. During that same period, the Hispanic population grew from about 3M to 13M. Little of that increase is from the natural increase of the Hispanic population here in 1960; nearly all of it is due to immigration.

Since the Democratic hegemony in the California statehouse depends on those Hispanic voters, there is a conflict between the California Democrats' supposed environmental concerns and their actual political interests. If they are ever going to become a real player in Cal. politics again, the Republicans need to side with the current population's interests in limiting further immigration.

Jun 07, 2015
"The truth is that California has been able to sustain that huge increase in population without a commensurate increase in water consumption--actually, with a decrease in water consumption. In 1990, when the census placed the state's population at 29.8 million, the state's freshwater withdrawals came to 35.1 billion gallons per day, according to the authoritative U.S. Geological Survey. In 2010, with a population of 37.3 million, that state drew 31.1 billion gallons per day.

How did that happen? Chiefly through a sharp reduction in urban per capital water use, which has been falling steadily since the mid-1990s, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, and especially in the populous coastal zone. "

Jun 07, 2015
"Some drought experts have taken issue with [CAPS'] claims, pointing out that the majority of the state's water supports agriculture.

"Blaming the drought on immigrants "doesn't fit the facts," said William Patzert, a climatologist from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The drought is caused by meager snowpack and poor planning, he said, "not because the immigrants are drinking too much water or taking too many showers.

"Others point out that many immigrants probably use less water than the average California resident because they tend to live in multi-family dwellings, not higher-consuming single-family homes."

"It's unlikely that the 'burden' of immigrants is very significant," said Stephanie Pincetl, professor in residence at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA."


Jun 07, 2015
The per-capita water use reduction can only be due to cooking the numbers since so small a fraction of water goes to household use. If yard work and harvesting were more expensive (as they would be without the Hispanics), then there would be less water spent on those areas.

Water is a side issue anyway - the article is on climate change. Ten million additional people living a Californian lifestyle rather than a Mexican lifestyle translates into ~140M additional tons of CO2 per year.

Vietvet, your generation is to blame for most of the United States' problems over the past third of a century, and many if not most of the people born here since 1970 loathe your generation far more than yours resented the previous, productive generations. 40% of the US workforce now earns less than the 1968 minimum wage, and that is due to immigration and outsourcing enabled and perpetrated by the baby boomers.

Jun 07, 2015
EWH, I am not a boomer, but a War Baby. We were not hippies but Beats, not violent but intellectual, not self-indulgent but the real ones who desegregated the South, sent men to the Moon, and provided the folk for both the Peace Corps and the War Corps.

Our parents were in the war when we popped out. We know better than the idiot who called our folks the Greatest Generation. They were the Most Coddled Generation. Born in the Great Republican Depression, they got the first federal largess from the first federal programs. They are the first generation to avoid supporting their parents, who now got Social Security, without having paid into it!

Just in time came the 40-hour workweek, and the resulting "Weekend". Their war was even righteous. But they sent US to do their dirty killing in Vietnam because they were SCARED of "Commonism", as J Edgar called it.

Jun 07, 2015

Your rant is uncalled for. You've written before about the difficulties you had with your father, don't paint an entire generation with the same brush.

I wish my parents, aunts and uncles were still around so you could call them the "Most Coddled Generation.


"Resent previous generations?"

It is hard to put into words how much I respect my parents generation and the ones that preceded them. I respect how difficult there lives were, how hard they had to work, how comparatively primitive medical care they had in their lives.

The post 1970 generation loathe my generation?

That's not the feed back I've had has a father, grandfather, boss, mentor, and uncle. Surely you can find a study to back up your claim.

40% of the US workforce earning less than the 1968 minimum wage is a disgrace but laying it all on baby boomers, immigration and outsourcing leaves out automation, the greed of CEOs , big investors, and incompetent/corrupt politicians.


Jun 08, 2015


I'm going to spend some time researching all your claims. I don't want this to be about opinions, mine or yours.

Jun 08, 2015
"Your rant is uncalled for. You've written before about the difficulties you had with your father, don't paint an entire generation with the same brush."

It is not a rant, go ahead and deny those facts, and I will give you more.

Jun 08, 2015
Vietvet while your at it don't forget to include the manufacturing jobs lost to needless regulations and higher than needed energy costs. I will be the first to agree that the EPA and OSHA have created much needed regulations in the past but I am also a firm believer that most government agencies are far overreaching their original intended purpose today. In fact it is these very agencies that give large corporations a huge advantage of small business.

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