Democrats Want to Slow California Emissions Rules

Monday, 14 Jul 2014 02:50 PM

By John Blosser

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A group of 16 California legislators want to slow the state’s headlong rush to battle global warming by cutting fuel emissions back to 1990 levels — and they're Democrats.

In a July 16 letter to Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, the lawmakers, led by Assembly member Henry D. Perea, D-Fresno, is urging that California exempt oil companies from the cap-and-trade provisions of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which mandates that gas companies come under the cap and trade system next year, and allow them to avoid it until Jan. 1, 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Democratic lawmakers fear that the provision in the 2006 act will cause gas prices at California’s pumps to soar by 15 cents per gallon or more, with California’s gas prices already the second highest in the nation, at an average of $3.97, outpaced only by Hawaii, at $4.17 per gallon, according to USA Today.

Perea said, "The cap-and-trade system should not be used to raise billions of dollars in new state funds at the expense of consumers, who are struggling to get back on their feet after the recession. In some areas of the state, like the Central Valley, constituents need to drive long distances, and they will be disproportionately impacted by rising gas prices."

The Wall Street Journal predicted that gas prices could leap from $0.49 to $1.83 per gallon, due to cap and trade.

The Democrats wrote to Nichols, "We urge you to reconsider the design of the cap-and-trade program so that California avoids unnecessarily increasing fuel costs and putting the brakes on our economic recovery."

California Air Resources Board spokesman David Clegern noted, "Having transportation fuels under the cap is essential for California to achieve its AB 32 greenhouse gas emission reduction goals."

The question is shaping up as a political battle. The administration of their fellow Democrat, Gov. Jerry Brown, so far has remained noncommittal on the question, while environmentalists and legislators who favor AB 32 have written to Brown, urging that oil companies not be exempted from the law and stating, "Business as usual is unsustainable when it comes to reliance on fossil fuels," the Times reported.

However, GOP Assembly members plan to send their own letter calling for a delay, with Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, arguing that drivers are about to be "blindsided"by "a hidden tax increase on the price of fuel that every Californian will feel when the program is expanded in January," CalWatchdog.com reported.

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