Wednesday, August 27, 2014
by Carolyn Whetzel
The head of California's Senate has blocked a bill (A.B. 69) that would have delayed for three years expansion of the state's greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program to include distributors of transportation fuels and natural gas.
In an Aug. 22 letter, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D) told Assembly Member Henry Perea (D), the author of A.B. 69, that he had decided to deny a hearing on the measure because it was introduced late in the session. “A measure of this importance should not be considered in the final weeks of a two-year session,” Steinberg said.
Steinberg's decision essentially kills the measure for this session.
Supported by a group of lawmakers, Perea introduced A.B. 69 July 3, saying the measure was needed to prevent a spike in fuel prices that would disproportionately affect low- and middle-income families and those who drive long distances.
The measure would have exempted transportation fuels and natural gas suppliers from the trading until Jan. 1, 2018. Also, the bill would have required the California Air Resources Board to notify motorists, families and small businesses about the potential price increases in transportation fuels.
I share your concern about the costs of combatting carbon emissions,” Steinberg said in the letter. “But the cost of doing nothing is much greater. Business as usual is not an option. If we are serious about reducing fuel costs and right the public health and economic wrongs facing our constituents, we must wean ourselves off fossil fuels and invest in cleaner transportation alternatives and in low income communities as we did in this year's budget.”
Steinberg Backed Away From Tax
Earlier this year, Steinberg backed away from his plan to impose a carbon tax on transportation fuels to keep them from coming under the scope of the trading program.
Heavily backed by the oil industry, A.B. 69 marked the latest attempt to prevent expansion of the cap-and-trade program to include transportation fuels.
Over the last several months, a group called “Fed Up at the Pump” has waged a massive advertising campaign to gain support for the measure.
Fed Up at the Pump is disappointed that a small percentage of our state's legislators took a pass on one of the most important issues facing California's hardworking families,” Jay McKeeman, a vice president at the California Independent Oil Marketers Association and a member of the group, said in an Aug. 25 written statement. “By denying an open, public discussion on the need for a delay in the implementation of CARB's hidden gas tax, the Legislature missed an opportunity to educate motorists about the upcoming hit to their wallets.”
Sen. Fran Pavley (D) was among several Democrats opposed to A.B. 69, saying it would allow the oil industry to “play by different rules than other industry” and delay action on reducing greenhouse gases.
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