As Hearings Near, California Legislators Introduce New Climate Bills

Source: By Inside EPA • Posted: Tuesday, March 10, 2015

SACRAMENTO, CA — California lawmakers have introduced a suite of new climate change and energy bills for consideration in the 2015-16 legislative session, with the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) and clean power mandates taking center stage as key policy committees gear up to hold their first hearings of the year.

Many of the new bills — which aim to dramatically impact state GHG, energy, air, waste and water policies and programs — were submitted just prior to the Feb. 27 deadline for introducing legislation.

One of the most noteworthy measures is AB 1288, introduced by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D), which authorizes the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to continue operating its GHG cap-and-trade program beyond 2020.

Current law, AB 32 of 2006, only authorizes the board to operate a cap-and-trade program through 2020. Extending the cap-and-trade program — along with several other major GHG programs — is considered by supporters as crucial to enabling California to reach its long-term GHG targets.

AB 1288 joins several other major climate change-related bills that were introduced recently, such as SB 32 by Sen. Fran Pavley (D), which requires CARB to approve a GHG emissions limit for 2050 that is 80 percent below 1990 levels. Pavley’s bill also authorizes the board to approve interim GHG emission targets to be achieved by 2030 and 2040.

And SB 350, the centerpiece of a legislative package introduced last month by top state senators, implements the governor’s goals of increasing renewable energy procurement from 33 percent in 2020 to 50 percent by 2030, reducing petroleum use 50 percent by 2030 and doubling building energy efficiency by 2030.

Prominent new energy sector bills introduced shortly before the Feb. 27 deadline include AB 645, authored by Assemblymen Das Williams (D) and Anthony Rendon (D), which would expand the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) by requiring that all utilities ensure that 50 percent of the power they supply to customers comes from renewable sources by the end of 2030. Williams also introduced AB 1094, which requires the California Energy Commission (CEC) to conduct an analysis of electricity consumption by plug-in equipment and set statewide targets for GHGs emitted by the generation of electricity consumed by plug-in equipment.

Several major bills to bolster clean fuels and vehicles were also introduced. For example, Assemblyman Henry Perea (D) introduced AB 1176, which would establish a new “Advanced Low-Carbon Diesel Fuels Access Program” at CARB, to reduce GHG emissions from diesel vehicles by providing capital assistance to build fueling infrastructure. The bill would require that $35 million from the state’s GHG auction revenue be used to fund the program.

The bill also requires CARB and CEC to allocate at least half the money from their respective funding programs for alternative fuels and vehicles on projects located in “disadvantaged communities.”

Energy Sector

Lawmakers have also introduced several bills addressing emissions in the energy sector. Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D) introduced AB 1332, which requires CARB under the state’s cap-and-trade program to create a GHG offset protocol for renewable energy projects that are able to ramp up or down during peak energy demand periods.

Another measure seeking to reduce GHG emissions from the energy sector is SB 687, introduced by Sen. Benjamin Allen (D), which requires CARB, by June 30, 2016, to adopt a renewable gas standard requiring all gas sellers to provide specified percentages of renewable gas to retail end-use customers. CARB would also be required, by 2017, to analyze the lifecycle GHG emissions and reductions for different biogas types and end-uses, according to the measure.

Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D) introduced AB 1330, known as the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard Act, which would require both investor-owned and municipal utilities to establish energy efficiency resource standards. The bill requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to require that Pacific Gas & Electric Co., Southern California Edison Co., and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. jointly achieve a reduction in “non-emergency, event-based demand response of 7 percent by 2020 and 10 percent by 2025, as measured by the sum of their peak demands,” the bill says.

At least 25 percent of a utility’s energy savings must come from disadvantaged communities identified by Cal/EPA, AB 1330 also says. Each utility must also file with CEC an annual analysis of the energy savings achieved during the prior year, divided by the energy consumption in the immediately preceding year, according to the measure.

Another bill, AB 1501, introduced by Rendon, requires state air districts to establish a methane emission standard for well stimulation treatments, such as fracking, and to issue permits to owners or operators to enforce that standard.

AB 1501 would also require the methane emission standard to include requirements on the owner or operator to monitor the well stimulation treatment for methane leaks. CARB or the air districts would also be required to install monitoring stations near any site approved for well stimulation treatments, according to the bill.