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KPBS Midday Edition

Gov. Brown, Legislative Democrats Scale Back Climate Package

In this May 19, 2015 file photo, California Gov. Jerry Brown, center, discusses the non-binding climate change agreement he is about to sign with international leaders from various states and provinces during a signing ceremony in Sacramento, Calif.
Associated Press
In this May 19, 2015 file photo, California Gov. Jerry Brown, center, discusses the non-binding climate change agreement he is about to sign with international leaders from various states and provinces during a signing ceremony in Sacramento, Calif.
Gov. Brown, Legislative Democrats Scale Back Climate Package
Gov. Brown, Legislative Democrats Scale Back Climate Package
Gov. Brown, Legislative Democrats Scale Back Climate Package GUESTS:Ben Adler, Capitol Bureau Chief, Capital Public Radio Nicole Capretz, executive director, Climate Action CampaignSean Karafin, executive director of policy and economic research, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

This is KPBS midday edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh. The government says they won't tell us how much we can drive. A pivotable section has been dropped. That section would've set up targets to limit use in gasoline in California. Joining us to claim what is no longer part of the bill, and why -- what is left is Ben Adler. Been welcome to the program. Hello Maureen. Thank you for joining us. SB 350 used to be known as the 50 5050 bill . Now it has lost one of the 50s. What was the bill originally supposed to do? Originally, it would have put into law, reduction goals that Jerry Brown laid out his inaugural address. Increasing the energy that California gets from her normal sources and cutting vehicle petroleum use and half and increasing -- doubling the increase efficiency by 2030. It was the middle goal of petroleum use that has been dropped. When you say opposition, a big push was made by the oil industry against the gas reduction provision. And you tell us about that? Opposition is not strong enough of a word. To represent the depth of dislikes that the oil industry felt about that. They ran millions of dollars of TV and radio ads and they apparently succeeded. Yesterday the votes were simply not there. It is a big deal because the oil industry has a lot of jobs and revenue in California. Not just in California, but outside of it to. This would have had an effect on it. Was the push just in an advertising campaign? Were there other incentives be made by the oil industry? Advertising, lobbying, when you put out all the stops -- I think the industry perceived that this measure threatened their core livelihood. When an industry feels that way -- is not just the industry. Look at the way that labor unions in California phot proposition 32. They truly felt their very existence was under attack. When a group is fighting for its life, it pulls out all of the stops. Oil in business group surely felt that way here. What is left of the bill now? The two parts that were not affected, increasing the energy that California gets from a new level resources and doubling the efficiency of the existing, are still in the Bell. Because those provisions have more support, the measure is expected to pass. When Governor. Brown announced the change to SB 50, and dropping of the gasoline targets, he did that with an attitude. He seemed to indicate that this fight was not over. Is that right? He did. The governor has pretty much gotten his way at the state capital over the last several years. Most of the time that he has been back at the governor's office, with the notable exception being able to retain partisan cooperation on the taxes and his first year back. This week, has shown that he is not invincible after all. He was not able to get this done for vehicle control. At this point, it is not clear if the client -- climate bill mandates an 80% reduction the low 1990 levels, under a be 32. On top of that, the governor could not get the Republican boats to raise the gas tax. That is not going to happen this week either. May be the governor is not invincible after all. The special session has not gone the way he would have liked to see it go. No. Certainly not. A day and a half left, you never know what can happen at the capital. There are rumors going around about making the two thirds vote happen. They want to ensure a high-speed rail. That is just one of the things that is going around the building. I want to thank you Ben Adler with capital radio. Joining us in the studio with local reaction to the climate bill change is Nicole. She is the director of climate action campaign who supports SB 50. Sean caravan is the executive director of policy and economic research with the San Diego regional Chamber of Commerce, which opposes the same bill. Nicole, here in San Diego, we saw the billboards and TV ads warning against the gas reduction target of this bill. If people recall, those ads would say Tesla owners will be all right, but you will not be. Did the oil industry hit on a flaw in this bill, or did they get it wrong? I think the used a tried and true tactic of fear mongering and misled the public about the impacts of this bill. We are in the fight of our lives for humanity and civilization to be able to live with the same quality of life we have today. This is going to be challenging. Yes, as Ben said we are talking about corporations that are hungry for Buffett. They are threatened and will do everything in their power to make sure they keep those profits going. We will do everything in our power to make sure that we are reducing carbon emissions and protecting her quality of life. We're making sure that our kids will have a future to thrive in. Your reaction to drop this part of the bill is that the fight is not over. Absolute not. Sean, now that the gas reduction target has been removed, does the chamber still oppose SB 50? We do, because that is not the only thing that is going to cost San Diego and, Californians directly from their wallets. This is only one of the three pieces. The 50% renewable standard, is something that will cost people as well. Here in San Diego, we see SB G in a meet their goals in advance. I do not know how big of an issue is going to be in San Diego, but across the state, as people have to spend more to get the responsible renewable sources, it will hurt the people that can least afford it the most. There is also the root duction -- or increase in efficiency for building. A good goal, but how are we going to get there and how much is it going to cost? Right now, the bill says we have to get there regardless of the cost. It allows the resources to write rules and regulations. They are not going to think about how much it is going to hurt individual people when they make those decisions. They will just achieve that goal, regardless. Making changes like this, using more renewables and of proving energy efficiency, will most likely cost some money. At least it will upfront. Is the chamber against requiring businesses to spend any amount of money in this effort, or is there an amount that you might be gives reasonable? Of course, what is reasonable is doing it in a way that everyone can agree what the cheapest way of achieving the goal is. That is absolutely what this bill avoids doing at all costs. You say that there has not been a cost analysis yet. How do you know that? When we went up to Sacramento and took a large delegation of our business leadership, we set down with the author of this legislation. We articulated that we were concerned about not knowing how much it was going to cost businesses and families. At the end of the day, he felt a lot of pressure from Democrats that was not expected initially. He understood that he had to drop the gas tax because it would hurt the -- it would hurt those that could least afford it. Nicole, you talked about that we need to do it for humanity's sake. We also heard from the governor that he would be dropping these gas reduction targets. He was going to read double his effort on what many see as his legacy legislation when it comes to climate change. Where do you think the fight goes now? I think the fight will continue in the public. I think the fight will continue a legislature. Also in the administration. I want to remind everybody that Californians -- California has economy is thriving. There is a huge economic opportunity for California. I have to end it there. Know this is a short one. We went so long with the weather. And want to thank you both so much.

Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats announced Wednesday that they are scaling back their ambitious proposal to address climate change amid ongoing opposition from the oil industry and some lawmakers.

Brown and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, had pushed a far-reaching proposal to cut petroleum use by half, boost renewable-electricity use to 50 percent and double energy efficiency in existing buildings. De Leon announced Wednesday that they he was dropping the mandate to cut oil use from his proposal.

With just two full days remaining for bills to emerge from the current legislative session, a massive lobbying campaign from oil interests could not be overcome, de Leon said. "We couldn't cut through the multibillion-dollar smoke screen created by big oil with a bottomless war chest," he said.


The Democratic governor has made climate change the centerpiece of his final term. Brown said at a news conference that lawmakers "did not cave in" to calls to scale back state authority to set emission rules and vowed to continue pushing for the 50 percent oil reduction through the regulatory process.

"The only thing different is my zeal has been intensified to a maximum degree and nothing, nothing is going to stop this state from pushing forward" on aggressive climate change standards, he said.

Brown said the primary sticking points for moderate Democrats in the state Assembly concerned the California Air Resources Board, an unelected body with broad power to set vehicle emissions and fuel standards to decide how the state will reduce oil use.

The governor said opponents agreed to pass the legislation if he agreed to dramatically scale back its power, but he refused.

The legislation has faced intense lobbying on both sides in recent weeks.