50% Petroleum Cut Dropped From SB350

Gas-Pump-blue-generic+flippedAfter the governor and legislative leaders announced pulling the 50-percent petroleum cut mandate from Senate Bill 350, the controversial climate change bill, fallout whirled about the capitol from finger pointing to relative silence from a main supporter to a defiant stand from the state’s chief executive.

As argued here previously, the economic consequences of passing the measure in tact would certainly affect lower income and middle class Californians. It was an argument that moved some Democrats who stood up for their constituents against pressure brought by legislative leaders and even movie stars.

Still, Senator Kevin de León yesterday was dismissing the argument that electric costs would increase when a Univision reporter asked him on camera about costs. De León’s answer was to suggest the information was a mistake put out by oil companies. However, a study issued by the Manhattan Institute reports that California’s green energy policies have driven up energy costs.

Meanwhile, one of the most noticeable proponents of SB350, billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, was mostly invisible after the measure was amended. Steyer, who stood with Sen. de Leon when the bill was introduced seven months ago, simply put out a short release praising the pieces of the measure that remained in SB 350 and said more work must be done.

On this site yesterday, Loren Kaye, president of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education associated with the state Chamber of Commerce urged legislators to wait and see if what has already been passed to confront climate change works before rushing ahead with new plans that could put the economy at risk.

But perhaps the most significant message delivered in the aftermath of the intense battle over this one bill came from a frustrated Governor Jerry Brown. He told a press conference that; “I am more determined than ever to make our regulatory regime work for the people of California.” He added, “We don’t have a declaration in statue but we have absolutely the same authority. We’re going forward.”

This Admiral Farragut declaration (“Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”) hints at bypassing the people’s representatives and making changes through executive regulatory action, this time through the authority of the California Air Resources Board.

CARB’s authority to implement the provisions of SB 350 with no legislative oversight was a major sticking point in discussions about the legislation. The governor declared he would not diminish CARB’s power. From his statement, it appears he intends to use it.

Yet, a full-blown public debate over an important issue affecting all Californians should not be disregarded because it did not come out the way proponents wished. Any major change on climate legislation should be accomplished only after the people’s representatives or the people themselves vote.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily