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Governor Brown Signs Cap and Trade Extension

It’s signed! California’s cap-and-trade law is officially extended through 2030. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

With sunny San Francisco as a backdrop in the distance, at the same spot where Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the original California Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006, today Governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 398, which will extend California's climate change policies into the next decade.

Governor Brown was joined by Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders who helped negotiate the compromise that allowed the contentious bill to pass with a two-thirds vote, as well as by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

It was a moment to celebrate a hard-won victory and crow a little bit about achieving a bipartisan compromise--and to warn of the dire consequences of not doing anything.

"You are witnessing one of the key milestones in turning around this carbonized world into a decarbonized, sustainable future," said Brown.

The governor took full advantage of his moment at the podium to emphasize the seriousness of the existential threat of climate change.

"This is not one of these ordinary legislative things," he said. "We're dealing with climate change. And next to the threat of nuclear danger, which is the other existential threat, nothing is more serious in the world than extinction."

"The gravity of the topic is so great that it's hard to talk about it," he said. "People think you're a little wacky. 'What are you, Cassandra? Is this the end of the world?'"

Yes, he said, it is. "If we don't do something about it, it is the end of the world as we know it; that's how serious it is."

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon thanks Governors Schwarzenegger and Brown for their leadership. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León thanks Governors Schwarzenegger and Brown for their leadership. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon thanks Governors Schwarzenegger and Brown for their leadership. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

"It's not perfect, there's no doubt about that," said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León about the final bill. "But a two-thirds measure, by design, requires compromise. And this was a commitment made by an entire spectrum of interests, environmental concerns as well as industrial concerns. Miraculously, we came up with a miracle."

"This is an example for the entire nation and the entire world of how you successfully govern," said De León. "We negotiated like adults across party lines. It is truly unfortunate our colleagues in DC can't figure out how to do the same."

Brown emphasized that without many voices an agreement may not have been reached. "It's not one person," he said. "It's leaders, staff people, people in oil, agriculture, business, the Chamber of Commerce, food processing—Foster Farms, Gallo Winery—the whole crowd," he said. "Plus we have the environmentalists."

"This is California. Our industry, our wealth, is the product of all these different individuals and companies and cultural organizations and nonprofits. It wasn't just one person, it was the whole thing, these forces that exemplified California."

Former Governor Schwarzenegger took the occasion to prod his fellow party members. "Republicans have heard many times from their party officials: don't vote for this bill, because we will lose jobs," he said.

But California has proven otherwise, growing its economy larger and adding more jobs than the rest of the United States.

"We are the economic engine of the nation," he said. "Don't those conservative republicans get the message? Can't they just think about it for a second and say: Maybe we should stop lying to the people? Maybe we should stop lying to the people! STOP IT!"

"I am so proud of California and the way everyone is working together," he added.

The bill's author, Eduardo Garcia, was proud of the fact that "air quality is at the center of our cap-and-trade regulation." At the same time, the bill creates policy that is "inclusive, equitable, and brings everyone along in California," he said. "That's why it received bipartisan support."

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