California Lawmakers Fight Climate Change

Posted by Emma Brownstein
(@Emma Brownstein)

The Initiative

California lawmakers, led by Governor Jerry Brown, voted to extend a statewide program to fight climate change to 2030, a decade longer than the former 2020 end date. The cap-and-trade initiative unique to California requires companies to buy permits before releasing greenhouse gas into the atmosphere and significantly reduces carbon emissions.

The program also benefits local economy, generating funds to build a priority bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco. “We can fight for free market policies to clean up our environment for our children at the same time we fight for a booming economy,” said former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The cap-and-trade initiative is being seen as a national model to apply financial pressure to companies in order to make them more environmentally friendly. Additionally, lawmakers also approved a companion measure that will reduce pollutants that create public health issues like asthma.

jerry brown
Photo by: Justin Sullivan

Coming Together

The legislation brought about bipartisan support, as Governor Brown was able to achieve the two-thirds support needed in both chambers to extend the program. “Republicans and Democrats set aside their differences, came together and took courageous action. That’s what good government looks like,” Brown said.

Photo by: Joe Fox & LA Times

Senate Leader Kevin de León called the initiative a “legislative unicorn” because of its widespread support from both parties.

That being said, the cap-and-trade program has been criticized by some environmental agencies, such as the Sierra Club,  for being too soft, and they call for tougher rules against companies and carbon emissions. Some GOP members have claimed that the bill is too costly for Californians and are disappointed in the support it received from the republican party.

But “California Republicans are different than national Republicans,” said Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes. “Many of us believe that climate change is real, and that it’s a responsibility we have to work to address it.

While California Republicans may not cause a national ripple effect that would contradict Trump’s notorious actions, or lack thereof, towards climate change, the support of the cap-and-trade program can serve as an example of bipartisan progress and a solid step for our Earth.

“We have to make decisions as legislators — do we do what is right or do we do what is politically right?” said Assemblyman Devon Mathis when pitching the program.

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