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Senate leader: No delay in cap-and-trade plan

A motorist pumps gas at a Costco station in South San Francisco. ((Photo: Broken Sphere)

An attempt to delay inclusion of transportation fuels in California’s program to fight greenhouse gases has been blocked by the leader of the Senate, who said any delays would harm the public’s health and diminish air quality.

Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said the bill, AB 69 by Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno, would not receive a hearing before the legislative session adjourns on Aug. 31, a move that virtually assures the measure’s demise. Steinberg serves as chair of the Senate Rules Committee, the powerful panel that assigns bills in the Democrat-controlled house.  He said “a measure of this importance should not be considered in the final weeks of a two-year session.”

Steinberg, citing an array of health, air-quality and economic concerns, said the program should go forward as scheduled, and faulted the oil industry for seeking to head off the state law.

The petroleum industry and a number of lawmakers in both parties surged that the scheduled Jan. 1 startup for including transportation fuels in the state’s landmark law to curb carbon emissions be delayed three years to 2018. Regulations written to put the law, AB 32 of 2006, into effect include a system in companies buy, sell and trade credits at auction to allow them to continue to operate while they gradually ratchet down on carbon emissions. The law requires greenhouses to be cut to 1990 levels by 2020.

California’s air-quality enforcer, the Air Resources Board, and environmentalists had opposed the delays, while the fuel companies said the cost of the credits could force double-digit increases in the cost of gasoline. Perea said increases in the cost of fuels would have an adverse impact on the economic

Steinberg, citing an array of health, air-quality and economic concerns, said the program should go forward as scheduled, and faulted the oil industry for seeking to head off the state law.

“Without AB-32’s clean transportation policies, Californians will suffer an additional $8 .3 billion in pollution-related health costs over the next decade. That includes 75,000 lost work days,38,000 asthma attacks, 880 premature deaths and 600 heart attacks, according to a report co-authored by the America n Lung Association,” Steinberg wrote Friday to Perea.

“Finally,  giving oil companies a free pass on AB-32 received the ultimate deliberative hearing in 2010: An overwhelming 62-38 vote of the California electorate–despite $10million from the oil industry attempting to convince voters otherwise,” Steinberg wrote.

Backers of the proposed delay said the “Legislature missed an opportunity to educate motorists about the upcoming hit to their wallets.”

 


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