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Environmental justice, consumer groups slam passage of Jerry Brown's unjust cap-and-trade bill



By Dan Bacher

Over 50 environmental justice and consumer organizations are outraged by the California Legislature’s passage of Big Oil’s cap and trade bill, Assembly Bill 398,  while Governor Jerry Brown, legislators and the Western States Petroleum Association are celebrating at the State Capitol.

Governor Brown, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes held a press conference following the Legislature's passage of what Brown described as a “landmark legislative package.” 

The package included AB 617 by Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and AB 398 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella)  supposedly to “combat air pollution in neighborhoods” and extend California's cap-and-trade program through 2030.

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

“To me, the most important thing we are doing today in enacting landmark air quality improvements, said Speaker Rendon in a tweet. 

After passing through the Senate this afternoon, the bill failed in the first Assembly vote, but then passed the second time through under political pressure, according to Gary Hughes of Friends of the Earth, U.S., a group opposing the market based carbon trading legislation.  

“The California legislature has passed a climate deal for billionaires that targets the most vulnerable while giving handouts to Big Oil,” responded Michelle Chan, Friends of the Earth’s Vice President of Programs, after the Assembly vote.  “They have ensured that Big Oil can continue to poison our communities and use the global atmosphere as a dumping ground. Their plan would leave the most vulnerable people, both in California and overseas, at risk to the impacts of climate change and the policy itself.”

Food and Water Watch, another group opposing the bill, disagrees with Brown’s contention that the passage of AB 398 was “what good government looks like.” The group pointed out that AB 398 “was written in consultation with the oil and gas lobby and is opposed by more than 50 of California’s leading environmental organizations.”

“This bill makes a bad cap-and-trade system even worse,” said Adam Scow, California director, Food & Water Watch. “It was written with oil and gas lobbyists and keeps us dependent of fossil fuels. The climate crisis demands that the State regulate and reduce pollution, but this bill gives polluters massive loopholes. “

The California Environmental Justice Alliance said in a tweet, “#AB398 and #ACA1 passed. EJ (environmental justice) communities will suffer the consequences, but our spirit is in tact. The EJ community will fight another day.” 

Liza Tucker, Consumer Advocate for Consumer Watchdog, described AB 398 as a “pollute and profit” bill. She said Brown’s plan ensures that Californians keep paying the state’s biggest polluters to pollute by banning regulators from ordering refineries and power plants to upgrade pollution controls, and by “pillaging cap-and-trade revenue” to pay for tax breaks.

“The legislation guarantees that the state will never reach its ambitious carbon-slashing goals by 2030. In fact, starting in 2024, lawmakers could redirect revenues away from anti-pollution projects to their own pet projects,” she noted.

Documents obtained by Capitol Watchdog reveal that Brown allowed the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying group in California, and Chevron to put language in the bill exempting oil refineries from air pollution regulations.

“Brown has handed Big Oil a pen to rewrite the law so that it protects refiners from making deep cuts to climate-warming emissions. The legislation blocks powerful Air Districts in the Bay Area and Los Angeles Basin from setting tough limits on emissions, like requiring refineries to install pollution control equipment,” Tucker said.

Read her blog to learn more about “Jerry Brown’s cap-and-trade giveaway” to Big Oil: capitolwatchdog.org/… 

On July 13, a "broad and deep coalition” of over 50 climate and environmental justice groups announced their opposition to AB 398, “the cap and trade bill that began with a Western States Petroleum Association wish list,” according to a press release from RL Miller at Climate Hawks Vote: climatehawksvote.com/...

The Western States Petroleum Association, as well as big environmental NGOs including NRDC, the Environmental Defense Fund, the California League of Conservation Voters, the Nature Conservancy and Environment California, supported the bill and praised its passage, drawing criticism from environmental justice advocates.

Before the vote, Environment California State Director Dan Jacobson said, “We support AB 398, and we believe that AB 617 is a complementary step in the right direction to improve air quality.”

“We need to do all we can to reduce climate pollution on the fastest possible timeline. California’s cap and trade program is one tool in the state’s toolbox and it needs to be continued in order to help California reach our commitment to reduce global warming pollution 40 percent by 2030,” said Jaccobson. ” (7/12/17)

This is not the first time that Environment California and other NGOs have lauded Brown, who has has received over $9.8 million from Big Oil and energy companies and supports environmentally destructive fracking, for his environmental “leadership.” 

For example, an Environment California representative served as the media contact for the Monterey Bay Aquarium-sponsored “Ocean Day Reception” in April 2012 where Brown received an “Ocean Champion” award for his "leadership" in protecting California's ocean waters. Ironically, the event was closed to the press:  www.indybay.org/...

Not mentioned in that release from the Governor’s Office was the alarming fact that Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create faux “marine protected areas” in Southern California from 2009 to 2012. She also served on the MLPA Initiative task forces to craft “marine protected areas” on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.  

The “marine protected areas” that she oversaw the creation of fail to protect the ocean from offshore oil drilling, fracking, oil spills, pollution, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.  

Background: California oil lobby tops spending in 2015-16 session with $36.1 million

In spite of California's reputation as a "green leader, Big Oil is the largest corporate lobby in the state and exerts enormous influence over the Governor's Office, Legislature and regulatory agencies.

As usual, the California Oil Lobby was the biggest spender in the 2015-16 legislative session, spending an amazing $36.1 million as of December 31, 2016.

The spending amounts to $1.5 million per month — nearly $50,000 per day — over the last two years. The $36.1 million surpassed the $34 million spent in the prior session, according to an American Lung Association report. “That’s enough money to buy 103,000 goats,” reported Stop Fooling California, stopfoolingca.org.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) was the top overall oil industry spender during the 2015-16 session, spending $18.7 million. As is normally the case, WSPA ranked #1 among all lobbying spenders this session

Chevron, the second overall oil industry spender, spent $7 million in the 2015-16 session. It spent $3 million in 2016, sixth among all lobbyists in the current session.

In the seventh quarter alone, WSPA dumped $2.6 million into lobbying legislators and state officials while billionaire Tom Steyer's Next Generation Climate Action spent an unprecedented $7.3 million, almost 3 times the oil industry group’s expenses.

The spending by Steyer’s group helped propel the passage of Senate Bill 32, legislation that reduces greenhouse gas level to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, in spite of strong opposition by the oil industry.

Since the 2007-08 Session, the oil industry has spent $133 million in lobbying in California.
To read the complete report, go to: http://www.lung



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