On September 8, 2016, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a pair of bills expanding California's climate change programs and increasing legislative oversight of the lead agency tasked with implementing those programs. Senate Bill 32 ("SB 32") requires the California Air Resources Board ("CARB") to enact regulations ensuring the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective greenhouse gas ("GHG") emission reductions, and sets a new statewide GHG emission reduction target of 40 percent less GHG emissions than the existing 2020 goals by 2030.
The companion law, Assembly Bill 197 ("AB 197"), increases legislative oversight of CARB by, among other things, adding two new nonvoting CARB board members to be filled from the legislature. It also creates new public reporting requirements for CARB, which must report emissions data annually on its website and to the newly created Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies.
AB 197 also requires that CARB consider "social costs," or net economic damages including health impacts, caused by climate change, and prioritize direct emission reductions from stationary, mobile, and other sources. A system of direct emission reductions would disfavor emission credit trading systems that California has been relying upon to meet its 2020 emission reduction goal. On the other hand, AB 197 also reaffirms the preexisting requirements that CARB consider other factors, such as the cost-effectiveness of regulations and minimizing leakage, or the flight of industry (and thus emission sources) across state borders. CARB will need to weigh these competing priorities when deciding how to strengthen existing programs, or design new ones, to meet the new 2030 target.
For more on this new legislation, read our Commentary," California Requires Significant New Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions."
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