Climate Change Legislation Hits a Bump

IMG_6008
Last week, Senator Fran Pavely displayed a 2006 Cal Worthington ad against earlier climate change efforts in California.

The push to legislate broad climate change goals in California hit a bump last night when S.B. 32, one of the most important of the current bills, lost in a vote on the Assembly floor.

The vote came late in the day, with no debate. The final tally of “yes” votes climbed to 30 before the poll closed, but that wasn’t enough to counteract the 34 “no” votes, especially when fifteen members did not cast a vote.

All of the Republicans but one voted against the bill, but several Democrats did as well. Most of those who didn’t vote—essentially the same thing as voting no—were Democrats.

S.B. 32 is one of several climate change bills being considered in this session; it would extend and increase the current greenhouse gas emission goals already set by the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. It’s unclear at this point whether the bill’s author, Senator Fran Pavely (D-Agoura Hills) will ask for a reconsideration before the session ends on Friday. But the vote serves as a warning for the other key climate change bill, S.B. 350, which has been vigorously attacked by oil companies and big business interests.

S.B. 350 is the “50-50-50” bill that would set goals to reduce fuel use and increase fuel efficiency in California. The oil companies’ spokesgroup, the Western States Petroleum Association, funded a series of ads claiming the bill would force rationing and fines to reach its goals, and business groups have attacked it as being bad for the economy. However, the bill’s goals are not to ration but to increase energy efficiency and conservation, and an EDF study found that the end result could be lower gas prices—and less dependence on oil.

Crucially, as currently amended, the bill recognizes that reducing vehicle miles traveled will have to be part of the solution to reducing fuel use, in addition to clean vehicle technology and low-carbon fuels. Not by forcing people not to drive, however; the bill’s aim is to create choices for people who don’t or can’t drive. Current wording recognizes that “it will be necessary to improve and expand… transportation choices that reduce vehicle miles traveled.”

In other words, as it currently stands, S.B. 350 would be a huge win for advocates of alternatives to driving, stating in law the legislative intent to increase ways of getting around without a car. The final outcome, however, is far from certain, and these bills could be subject to last-minute amendments like any other bill.

Because so many Democrats are holding out, and the bill needs at least some Republican support, the chances of S.B. 350 passing without amendments is low. If you’re interested in this legislation, check CalBike’s campaign page.

The members who voted against the bill are: Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo), Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), Baker (R-San Ramon), Bigelow (R-Placerville), Brough (R-San Juan Capistrano), Chang (R-Brea), Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), Dahle (R-Grass Valley), Daly (D-Anaheim), Frazier (D-Brentwood), Beth Gaines (R-Granite Bay), Gallagher (R-Chico), Gray (D-Modesto), Grove (R-Bakersfield), Hadley (R-Torrance), Harper (R-Costa Mesa), Jones (R-Santee), Kim (R-Buena Park), Lackey (R-Palmdale), Linder (R-Corona), Low (D-Cupertino), Maienschein (R-San Diego), Mathis (R-Visalia), Mayes (R-Rancho Mirage), Medina (D-Riverside), Melendez (R-Murrieta), Obernolte (R-Hesperia), Olsen (R-Modesto), Patterson (R-Fresno), Perea (D-Fresno), Salas (D-Hanford), Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga), Wagner (R-Tustin), Waldron (R-Escondido), Wilk (R-Valencia).

Those who didn’t cast a vote on S.B. 32 are: Alejo (D-Salinas), Brown (D-San Bernardino), Burke (D-Inglewood), Calderon (D-City of Industry), Campos (D-San Jose), Chávez (R-Oceanside), Cooper (D-Elk Grove), Dodd (D-Woodland), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), Gipson (D-Rancho Dominguez), Gordon (D-Los Altos), Roger Hernández (D-West Covina), Irwin (D-Camarillo), O’Donnell (D-San Pedro), Rodriguez (D-Chino).

  • lunartree

    This is the problem with the democratic party. They don’t have the backbone to be liberals. We need to vote out the dinosaurs.

  • calwatch

    Bill watchers also need to be prepared for a referendum of SB 350 should it pass and be signed by the Governor. With the minimal amount needed to put anything on the ballot this cycle, thanks to the low-turnout 2014 general election, a couple of million more dollars from the oil industry should lead this to be added to an already long November 2016 ballot, much like plastic bag makers were able to stall a ban on their product this year.

    The problem is SB 350 is a black box that assumes technological improvements which by definition are uninvented. Based on today’s technology, the oil companies are right in that the only way to get to 50% reduction would be massive taxation or rationing, as the average age of vehicles are getting longer and longer every year as they get more reliable. Sticks will be needed to get to that point that the public has not yet endorsed, and which the oil companies will only be happy to make up if this goes up for a vote.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Legislative Wrap-up: Environmental Justice, Cap-and-Trade Funding

|
The lead-up to the end of the California legislative session at midnight last night included a standard amount of grandstanding, tearful farewells, laughter, and exhaustion. Some bills passed and will now await the governor’s good graces, and some died on the legislature floor. Here’s a quick recap of a few bills relevant to sustainable streets. […]

California Legislative Update

|
This week Sacramento saw long hearings in the Senate and Assembly, as both houses pushed to meet their deadline to pass bills. Any bill that doesn’t pass its house of origin by the end of this week is dead–for this year at least. Herein, our highly selective look at this week’s activities in the California […]