Big Win for Big Oil|in California

     SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – California’s sweeping climate change legislation was derailed Wednesday when Gov. Jerry Brown and state officials removed a clause to cut gasoline consumption 50 percent after a “titanic struggle” with the oil industry.
     In an impromptu evening press conference just two days before the legislative deadline, Brown and state Democratic leaders said Senate Bill 350 was unlikely to pass the Assembly without removing the ambitious clause. Senate president Kevin de León said the bill was doomed by the oil industry’s endless advertisements and its “bottomless war chest.”
     Staring at a proposed 50 percent cut in California revenue, the Western States Petroleum Association and other oil advocacy groups ramped up advertisements and lobbying at the state Capitol over the past few weeks. Their efforts were able to align a portion of Central Valley Democrats against SB 350 and put the climate change bill in doubt, despite Democrats owning a majority in the Assembly.
     Brown said the 50 percent goal was the most aggressive climate change plan in the country and was adamant that SB 350 still contains important renewable energy and energy efficiency goals for the Golden State.
     Despite being forced to gut provisions from the climate change bill, Brown said the state has already cut petroleum use 25 percent and will continue to strive for environmental reform.
     “Over my next three years, you’re going to see a continuing effort to ratchet up the state commitment to cleaning up our air, reducing carbon pollution and thereby setting an example for the rest of the world,” Brown said.
     The climate change plan’s fate could be tied to another bill, Senate Bill 32, which was shot down Tuesday by the Assembly . The companion bill called for massive cuts in greenhouse gases by 2030 and fell 10 votes short of passing the Assembly, but will be heard once more after a reconsideration motion.
     Opponents of both bills questioned the power given the California Air Resources Board to enforce the drastic emissions and gas reductions. Lawmakers floated amendments in an attempt to save the bills that would curb some of the regulator’s oversight but Brown said he refused to give in to the oil industry’s demands in a meeting with Chevron representatives.
     “We’re not selling out the climate regime of California to get this part of the bill passed,” Brown said.
     Western Petroleum States Association president Catherine Reheis-Boyd said it’s committed to working with Brown on climate change and energy policy.
     “Today’s announcement was an acknowledgement that California’s energy future, economic competitiveness, and environment are inextricably linked,” Reheis-Boyd said in a statement.
     Both Brown and de Leon said they won’t be intimidated by the oil industry going forward and that their struggle will only intensify their climate change efforts.
     “This is one skirmish, but I’ll tell you it’s increasing the intensity of my commitment to do everything I can to make sure that we reduce oil consumption in California and continue on the path of leading the world in a sustainable future,” Brown said.

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