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Climate Change Legislation Hits a Bump

11:57 AM PDT on September 9, 2015

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).

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