Lawmakers announce plan to extend California cap and trade

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders released a plan Monday to extend through 2030 California’s cap-and-trade program, a key piece of the state’s quest to fight climate change by drastically reducing emissions from greenhouse gases.

The deal updates how refineries, utilities and other carbon emitters can use pollution allowances and offsets, and it gives the California Air Resources Board power to set a price cap on carbon aimed at containing costs to businesses and consumers. But it also prevents local air districts from placing further carbon emissions restrictions on polluters, a move some environmental groups decry as a concession to oil companies. The deal includes a companion bill aimed at reducing local air pollution.

With a bill now in print, lawmakers could vote on the deal as early as Thursday. The cap-and-trade reauthorization needs support from two-thirds of lawmakers to pass.

Cap-and-trade puts a limit on the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions and requires oil refineries, utilities, ports and other polluters to buy and trade allowances to emit carbon. By putting a price on carbon and reducing allowable emissions over time, it aims to incentivize polluters to reduce their emissions. Money from the program goes into a greenhouse gas reduction fund that pays for energy conservation efforts, transportation and housing projects and a high-speed rail, a pet project of Brown’s.

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The program is a key piece of California’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.

Brown, who has been extolling California’s climate leadership on the world stage, is scrambling to cement cap and trade for another decade while satisfying competing interests at home. Environmental groups want to see more dramatic pollution reductions and business interests don’t want to see a jump in…

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