California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 32 last week codifying into law his office’s emission reduction goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below the 1990 level by 2030. By signing this bill, Governor Brown made his prior Executive Order B-30-15 part of California’s overall climate change law by adding a new section to the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (See California Health & Safety Code § 38566). As before, the California Air Resource Board (“CARB”) is the state agency charged with ensuring that the new greenhouse gas emission reduction goal is met.
Senate Bill 32 is accompanied by a companion bill, Assembly Bill 197, which passed in late August (though language in each bill prevented either from reaching the governor’s desk without the passage of the other). As codified, Assembly Bill 197 adds two members of the Legislature to the CARB Board as ex-officio, nonvoting members and creates staggered six-year terms for the voting members of the CARB Board. It also creates the Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies to provide oversight for state programs, policies, and investments related to climate change.
Notably, neither bill extends California’s current Cap and Trade program past 2020. The Cap and Trade program is a preeminent piece of the state’s overall Greenhouse Gas reduction program but it faces an uncertain future. Ongoing litigation challenging CARB’s authority to raise revenue through the program’s auctions of greenhouse gas allowances remains active at various trial and appellate court levels.
The state Cap and Trade program’s uncertainty could place a significant restraint on the effectiveness and viability of Senate Bill 32’s new emission reduction goal. All eyes are turning toward the Legislature in 2017 for a definitive sign that California will continue its Cap and Trade program past 2020. Despite this uncertainty, California moves forward full steam ahead — the law of the land now requires a 40% reduction below 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030.