By Mark Altgelt
Special to the Herald
President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement makes California’s leadership role in addressing climate change and two related bills due for a vote soon in the California Legislature more important that ever.
The California Global Warming Solution Act of 2006 (Assembly Bill 32) was groundbreaking legislation that took a comprehensive, long-term approach to addressing climate change by establishing a pricing mechanism for reducing greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining California’s growing economy.
That legislation has lead the United States and world in developing alternative energy businesses and creating hundreds of thousands of high paying jobs that are contributing to California’s economic growth while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The “cap and trade” section of the California Global Warming Solution Act of 2006 is scheduled to expire in 2020. Senate Bill 775 has been introduced to extend cap and trade and make it a hybrid system that includes pricing carbon while eliminating carbon offsets and giving out free allowances that are traded to allow a metric ton of carbon pollution.
SB 775 would place a cap on emissions and auction allowances within a floor and ceiling price. The floor price would start at $20 per ton in 2021 and rise $5 per year plus inflation starting in 2023, while the ceiling price would start at $30 per ton and rise $10 per year.
That would establish a predictable, steadily rising price on fossil fuels. The majority of the revenue collected would be paid to all California residents including the homeless, unbanked and undocumented residents in equal quarterly dividend payments to compensate for rising fossil fuel prices. Most low and moderate income households would receive more money from the dividend than they pay in increased costs from the carbon price.
A small portion of the allowance revenue would be invested in the California Climate Infrastructure Fund and the California Climate and Clean Energy Research Fund.
A border adjustment will protect jobs and businesses from leaving California by creating a level playing field through an equivalent carbon price on carbon intensive products coming into the state and a matching rebate for goods that are exported.
National economic studies have shown the billions of dollars distributed to California households in dividend payments would boost the economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Senate Bill 775 would be an investment in creating a clean energy economy, clean energy jobs and clean air for a healthy environment for Californians.
The effectiveness of clean energy in the last decade has shown we have the capability to produce all of our energy needs from renewable sources. California’s next frontier is to build a more efficient alternative energy infrastructure powered by energy from the sun, wind, hydroelectric power, biomass fuels, geothermal heat and hydrogen/oxygen fuel cells.
The newly introduced California Clean Energy Act of 2017, SB 100, in combination with SB 775, would put California on the path to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2045. SB 100 would implement policies for more efficient and cost effective renewable energy and zero carbon resources such as electric cars.
New requirements would be established for companies and investor owned utilities to invest in clean transportation fuels such as hydrogen and capture methane emissions from dairies, landfills and waste water treatment plants to replace natural gas and diesel fuel.
California is the fifth largest economy in the world because over the past 100 years we have been a leader in revolutionizing Americas’ entertainment, agriculture, transportation, energy, and technology sectors. We defined our identity as a state by reclaiming and protecting our wilderness, coastline and natural environment. And now we lead the nation in renewable energy generation, clean tech venture capital investment, patent creation and clean car technology.
California led the world with the Global Warming Solution Act of 2006 and will lead again with SB 775 and Senate Bill 100 as models for reducing emissions to restore sustainable global temperatures while creating millions of high paying jobs.
With President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement it is imperative that State Senators and Assembly members vote YES on Senate Bill 100 to put California on the path to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2045 and YES on SB 775 to upgrade the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 to reach our ambitious climate goals.