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in the KNOW

July 19, 2017

fullsizerenderLegislature Approves Cap and Trade Program Extension

Bill Contains Critical Cost Containment Mechanisms Through 2030

On July 17, the Senate and Assembly approved AB 398 (E. Garcia), a bill to extend the cap and trade program through 2030, by a two-thirds vote. Ag Council and other agricultural groups, in addition to many business and industry organizations, supported passage of AB 398 in the California State Legislature and worked to help secure the two-thirds vote in each of the legislative chambers.

Simply put, the cap and trade program is the most cost-effective way to meet the ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction requirements already in place in California under a law approved in 2016, SB 32. Without cap and trade, which is a market-based compliance system, the Air Resources Board (ARB) has the ability under current statute to move forward with extreme mandates to achieve GHG emissions targets that will cost Californians far more. Cap and trade is the least expensive approach to reducing carbon emissions and is three to five times cheaper than alternative methods.

Why Does Ag Council Support an Extension of Cap and Trade?
• AB 398 provides critical cost containment mechanisms and certainty for our members in the cap and trade program by extending it through 2030.
• Without an extension of the cap and trade program, ARB currently has statutory authority to implement extreme command and control measures to regulate GHGs.
• Given that ARB can take severe regulatory measures under existing law, AB 398 is needed to ensure cap and trade is in place through 2030 as the market-based mechanism to meet GHG emissions reduction requirements.
• For further details, click HERE to read a letter signed by Ag Council and other agricultural organizations in support of cap and trade.

GOP Members Supporting Cap and Trade Extension through 2030
Ag Council thanks the Republican legislators who, amidst a great deal of political pressure, voted in support of AB 398. In the Senate, in addition to Senate Democrats, Sen. Tom Berryhill was the lone GOP member who supported AB 398 at the request of agricultural groups. We appreciate his vote to ensure passage of the bill.

In the Assembly, seven GOP legislators supported the cap and trade bill and joined many Democrats to attain the two-thirds vote necessary to pass AB 398. We thank the following Republican members of the Assembly for their courage to vote in favor of AB 398: Asm. Catharine Baker, Asm. Rocky Chavez, Asm. Jordan Cunningham, Asm. Heath Flora, Asm. Devon Mathis, GOP Leader Chad Mayes, and Asm. Marc Steinorth. We encourage our members to thank this group of legislators for their vote. Ag Council sent personal thank you notes to these legislators, in addition to several of the Moderate Democrats who championed agriculture’s issues during negotiations on AB 398. Governor Brown is expected to sign AB 398 soon.

Click HERE to listen to a news report regarding GOP support of AB 398, with a focus on Asm. Mathis’ floor speech during the Assembly debate on AB 398.

Thank You to Our Members
A huge thank you to Ag Council members in the cap and trade program — all of which actively advocated for passage of AB 398 through meetings, letters, and phone calls with legislators. This was a challenging process and the two-thirds vote would not have happened without your support.

A breakdown of the vote on AB 398 and how each legislator voted is provided HERE. Please do not hesitate to contact Ag Council at ph. (916) 443-4887 if you have any questions.

Air Quality Measure Passes Legislature

On July 17, the Senate and Assembly passed AB 617 (C. Garcia), a measure to require: 1) the development of community plans to reduce criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminant emissions, 2) higher penalties for air pollution violations and 3) regular upgrades to emissions-related equipment, among other provisions.

AB 617 was a majority vote bill sought by a group of legislators concerned about the impact of toxic air contaminants and criteria air pollutants on disadvantaged communities.  Given the two-thirds Democrat supermajority, the measure easily passed.

Ag Council worked along with other groups to communicate concerns about the bill to Governor Brown and his staff regarding the potential regulatory impacts and cost implications for our members. We sought and attained stronger clarity in the bill with regard to implementation dates and definitions contained within AB 617, as well as parameters around the facilities that must comply.

The provisions of AB 617 include:

Data collection
Requires regular and consolidated reporting of criteria pollutants and toxic air contaminant emissions from major stationary sources via a uniform statewide system.

Best Available Retrofit Control Technology (BARCT)
Requires each nonattainment district to adopt an expedited schedule for implementation of BARCT by the earliest feasible date, but not later than December 31, 2023, except those emissions units that have implemented BARCT since 2007.

Penalties
Increases civil and criminal strict liability penalty limits from $1,000 per day to $5,000 per day for specified air pollution violations and provides for California Consumer Price Index adjustments.

Community Monitoring Plans
By October 2018, ARB must develop a monitoring plan on the availability and effectiveness of advanced sensing monitoring technologies and community air monitoring systems for pollutants and deploy monitoring systems in high priority locations that are selected based upon exposure to pollutants.

The governor is expected to sign AB 617 soon.