California legislators have introduced a package of ambitious new climate legislation. Taken together, the four bills would increase the California's Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50% by 2030, require the State's pension funds to divest their holdings from coal companies, and cut the use of petroleum fuels by 50%. The bills would also codify an Executive Order pledging to cut California's GHG emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
It is too early to handicap the bills' chances of success. It's worth noting, however, that virtually all of the proposals contained in the legislative package are consistent with goals articulated in Governor Jerry Brown's inaugural address.
The legislative proposals come on the heels of a California Court of Appeal decision upholding the offset component of the State's GHG cap-and-trade program. The cap-and-trade program allows covered entities to satisfy up to 8% of their compliance obligations. A pair of environmental groups challenged this provision of the program, alleging that California's offsets fail to ensure additionality. The Court rejected the challenge, and, in so doing, upheld the California Air Resources Board's offset-related regulations, technical determinations, and protocols for four categories of offsets: U.S. forest projects, urban forest projects, livestock and manure management projects, and destruction of ozone depleting substances. A fifth category (Mine Methane Capture) was not part of the litigation.
The outcome of the litigation was not unexpected. But it does provide additional certainty around California's compliance offsets.