Climate plan faces legal turbulence in California

Source: By David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle • Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The cap-and-trade system designed to control greenhouse gas emissions in California is facing legal obstacles.

Businesses need to purchase a permit for each ton of emissions they are responsible for. However, the legislation that the system is based on has outlined targets for reducing emissions until 2020 and does not extend beyond that.

The California Air Resources Board, the entity behind the cap-and-trade system, has created a draft plan for extending the timeline, but the state legislative counsel remains convinced that it doesn’t have the authority to do so.

On top of this, a four-year-long lawsuit filed by the California Chamber of Commerce argues that the fees that businesses have to pay against their emissions are essentially a tax, meaning that it needs a two-thirds vote in the Legislature before it can be passed.

Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has made extending the system past 2020 a priority. Last week, Nancy McFadden, the governor’s executive secretary, tweeted, “We will not play into the hands of oil companies by telegraphing our strategy or settle for measures that weaken, undermine or diminish our world-leading climate programs.”

She added: “Let’s be clear: We are going to extend our climate goals and cap-and-trade program — one way or another”