California lawmakers extend landmark climate change law

California lawmakers voted Monday to extend a climate change initiative that Gov. Jerry Brown holds up as a model for states and nations looking to lower carbon emissions.

Brown’s signature will add another decade of life to the state’s cap-and-trade program, bolstering the Democratic governor’s quest to portray California as a leader in the fight against climate change at a time when President Donald Trump is pulling back.

“Tonight, California stood tall and once again, boldly confronted the existential threat of our time,” Brown said in a statement after the vote. “Republicans and Democrats set aside their differences, came together and took courageous action. That’s what good government looks like.”

Brown portrays the initiative, which would have ended in 2020, as essential for the survival of civilization. Extending it has been one of his highest priorities as he nears the end of his fourth term, but critics say it fails to aggressively combat pollution.

The legislation was fiercely opposed by some environmentalists who say it’s too timid for progressive California, especially those who work to clean up the notoriously smoggy air in parts of Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and the agricultural Central Valley. Conservatives also fought the measure, saying it will raise costs in an already expensive state.

But Brown and Democratic leaders were able to cobble together the two-thirds support needed in both chambers to extend the law through 2030.

Cap and trade puts a limit on carbon emissions and requires polluters to obtain permits to release greenhouse gases. Some permits, known as allowances, are given away while others are auctioned, generating billions of dollars in revenue for the state.

The extension was part of a three-bill package, which passed. One measure aims to improve local air quality, and helped bring some Democrats on board with the cap-and-trade deal. Republicans, however, favored a third bill that may give them more of a say in how to spend the money collected through cap and trade.

Brown sounded an apocalyptic tone in a rare personal appeal before a Senate committee last week, telling lawmakers that failing to pass the extension would lead to fires, disease and mass migration, not to mention higher costs for food and gasoline.

Republicans likened the bill to a tax that will hit Californians at the gas pump and the grocery store. The nonpartisan legislative analyst said last year that the existing cap and trade…

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