Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 32 into law, extending and expanding California’s 10-year old greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions mandate under Assembly Bill (AB) 32. SB 32 provides for a 40% reduction in GHG emissions from 1990 levels by 2030. This builds on AB 32’s existing mandate to reduce statewide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. In negotiations to pass SB 32 in the final weeks of the state legislative session, the bill was trimmed to add only one sentence to existing statute, to insert the 2030 target. Left unaddressed was one question of the moment, can the cap and trade program authorized by AB 32 legally continue past 2020? The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has its own answer to the question, the subject of this earlier post. The courts will no doubt end up as the final arbiter. Whether post-2020 GHG emissions reductions are met through a cap and trade program or other screws and hammers in ARB’s toolbox, the 2030 target is now written into law, rather than just Executive Order B-30-15.
The vital component of the compromise to pass SB 32 was companion bill AB 197. AB 197 establishes legislative oversight of ARB’s actions to implement AB 32 and SB 32, by creating a Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies and adding two ex officio nonvoting members to the Board. AB 197 also puts a new twist on ARB’s broad authority to adopt rules and regulations to achieve emissions reductions. AB 32 requires ARB to achieve maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective emissions reductions from sources or categories of sources. AB 197 further requires ARB to prioritize direct emissions reductions, including from large stationary sources and mobile sources, when adopting rules and regulations to achieve reductions.
In addition to headliner SB 32, the Legislature passed one additional bill with direct emissions reduction mandates, SB 1383.