Historic Climate-Change Bills in California Legislature Go Down to the Wire
After passing the Senate by a wide margin in June, the bills face a much tougher test in the Assembly, which is expected to take them up as early as this week. Some moderate Democrats, charging “coastal elitism,” say the bills will harm the middle-class families they represent in the Central Valley. And others are trying to shake down legislative leaders for handouts that benefit their districts.
“The oil companies are overstating their case by a lot, but there’s at least a grain of truth to what they’re saying,” said Jack Pitney, a political expert at Claremont McKenna College. “And that creates political problems for this legislation.”
In recent days, Senate Bill 350 — sponsored by de Le�n, D-Los Angeles, and Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco — and SB32, sponsored by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agora Hills, have drawn praise from Obama, U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and members of the state’s congressional delegation. Still, without more support from moderate Democrats in the lower house, the ambitious climate legislation can’t move forward.
Some lawmakers take issue with the measures’ toughest goals: cutting petroleum use by cars and trucks in half over the next 15 years and slashing greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels over the next 35 years. Others want greater legislative oversight of the California Air Resources Board, a longtime target of conservatives that would be responsible for implementing the legislation. De Le�n last week said he would support amendments adding oversight provisions, but the industry pooh-poohed his promise.