California lawmakers are preparing to face off with the state’s powerful fossil fuel industry in a battle over two potentially groundbreaking climate change bills.
The more contentious legislation in question, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015 (SB350), would increase California’s share of electricity from renewable energy sources to 50 percent and reduce the state’s use of oil in half by 2030—the equivalent of removing 36 million cars and trucks from the roads over the next 15 years—through new technology and more efficient planning.
The second piece of legislation, the California Global Warming Solutions Act (SB32), would raise mandates for oil refineries and power companies, among other big polluters, to lower their greenhouse gas emissions.
Introduced by state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, SB350 has picked up a slew of endorsements from state lawmakers—including California Governor Jerry Brown—along with a firestorm of opposition from oil and gas industry lobbyists.
“This is a fight worth having because it’s a fight for our children’s health, it’s a fight for the economic future of the greatest state in the country.”
—Kevin de León
Brown has indicated his eagerness to sign the bill, particularly in light of the state’s unprecedented drought, now entering its fourth year, which recent scientific reports revealed is being exacerbated by climate change. In a statement last week, Brown said, “It’s time for Republicans, foot-dragging corporations and other deniers to wake up and take sensible action before it’s too late.”
But those same corporations are pushing hard against SB350.
Fliers sent this week to California households by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), which represents the fossil fuel industry, warn that the bill will implement “gas rationing to control when families can fill their tanks, surcharges on non-hybrid mini-vans and SUV’s, penalties and fines for drivers who use too much gas,” and other effects.
Unlike previous environmental bills, SB350 “is something entirely different,” said WSPA spokesperson Tupper Hull. “It is an attempt to essentially put oil companies out of business.”
But while the oil and gas industry spreads what lawmakers in Sacramento are calling a “doomsday” message, Berkeley-based energy consultant Bentham Paulos clarifies in a piece for Grist, “The problem? There is no such bill.”
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