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California State Senators Announce Suite of Aggressive Climate Legislation

Authors: Nico van Aelstyn, Drew Mayer
Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., February 12, 2015

Click here for a PDF of this news alert.

On Tuesday, February 10, several members of the California Senate proposed a package of four bills that would expand the state’s climate change and renewable energy programs, and extend those programs through 2050.  If passed, these bills would set an aggressive, overarching target for reduction of greenhouse gas pollution by 2050, and implement several new programs:

  • SB 32 (Sen. Fran Pavley) would require California’s greenhouse gas emission to be reduced to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, and would extend the authorization of the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) to implement programs and policies to achieve this goal.
  • SB 350 (Sen. Kevin de León and Sen. Mark Leno) would require a reduction in petroleum use of 50 percent by 2030; require California utilities to source 50 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2030; and give California agencies the authority to enforce stringent energy efficiency standards for new buildings, driving a 50 percent increase in building efficiency by 2030.
  • SB 189 (Sen Ben Hueso) seeks to create a committee tasked with maximizing jobs and economic growth in California associated with the clean energy economy.  The committee would be comprised of 5 members appointed by the Governor and subject to Senate approval, one member from the Senate rules committee, and 1 member appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly.
  • SB 185(Sen. Kevin de León) would require the state’s massive public pension funds (CalPERS and CalSTRS) to divest from “thermal coal companies.” 

California already has the strongest climate change legislation of any state in the country:  AB 32, passed by the California Legislature in 2006, grants broad authority to CARB to implement programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.  Under the authority of AB 32, CARB has implemented a broad cap-and-trade program that puts a price on 85 percent of the California’s greenhouse gas emissions.  The state also has an aggressive Renewables Portfolio Standard in place, which requires utilities to source 33 percent of their power from renewable generation by 2020, and is implementing a Low Carbon Fuels Standard to incentivize the use of renewable fuels.  While these programs will continue after 2020, authority to make further greenhouse gas reductions or require even larger purchases of renewable energy will end at that time under existing law. The proposed legislation would authorize the state to continue to aggressively reduce greenhouse gasses, and spur utilities to make ever-greater purchases of renewables, through 2050. 

Beveridge & Diamond will be following the progress of these bills closely. 

Beveridge & Diamond advises and represents major industry associations and corporations in the transportation, energy and consumer-product sectors on greenhouse gas emissions inventories, control measures, and credit and trading issues arising under domestic and international regulatory regimes. The lawyers in our San Francisco office regularly advise clients on CARB’s regulatory initiatives and implications.  For more information, please contact the authors or any member of our Climate Change Practice.