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Gov. Brown, Legislative Democrats Scale Back Climate Package

Evening Edition host Peggy Pico talks with the Climate Action Campaign's Nicole Capretz and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce's Sean Karafin about recent changes to the state's ambitious proposal to address climate change.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: 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.

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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.

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