Cap-and-trade program polarizes SCV state legislators

Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Governor Jerry Brown’s cap-and-trade program extension was approved by state legislators Monday evening, crossing party lines and earning bipartisan support to combat climate change.

Assembly Bill 398 extended the program until 2030 with 28 Senators’ support and 12 opposed and 55 Assembly members’ support and 21 opposed.

This cap puts limits on greenhouse gas emissions and requires companies to pay penalties if they exceed the cap, which becomes stricter over time. The trade is a market for companies to buy and sell allowances while only emitting a certain amount of gases, providing an incentive to save money by cutting emissions.

Santa Clarita’s state senators had polarized responses to the approval, with the local Democrat legislator in favor and the Republican in opposition.

This program is both beneficial environmentally and economically, according Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park), who once described himself during a virtual town hall as “environmentally aggressive.”

“Today’s vote is a win for taxpayers, small business owners, innovators and everyone who breathes in California (everyone),” Stern said in a statement.

“What our bipartisan vote today shows is that some matters rise above party. Tackling climate change in a way that sustains California’s global economic competitiveness is much bigger than any party or person.  I’m proud to be a member of the California Legislature today.”

Highlighting the reason for his “no” vote, Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) said the cost of this deal with be burdensome to taxpayers.

“California is the sixth largest economy in the world and produces less than one percent of the world’s carbon emissions, yet we are going to balance the world’s climate change on the backs of middle and working-class Californians,” Wilk said in a statement.

“Giving unelected bureaucrats unchecked authority over how this program is implemented and enforced means it will have enormous power over ordinary Californians.  This is a dangerous precedent and something I fear will be bad for California’s consumers.”

Wilk cited the recently-approved 12-cent gas tax Governor Brown has set for November and said the combination this with cap-and-trade is unaffordable for the middle class. Also, putting cap-and-trade revenue toward the High-Speed Rail is “an embarrassment,” Wilk said.

Of those who voted, seven Republican Assembly members and one Republican Senator voted in favor of the bill. Three Assembly Democrats voted against cap-and-trade.

Santa Clarita’s Assembly members Dante Acosta (R-Santa Clarita) and Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) were among the legislators who voted against the program Monday.

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