The Terra News

Jerry Brown went to China to fight climate change. But can he do it in his own backyard?

JUNE 30, 2017 12:01 AM


In a room once occupied by Republican Gov. Earl Warren, Jerry Brown toasted legislators from across the aisle at a recent climate luncheon in the stately Governor’s Mansion.
Republican lawmakers, the Democratic governor said emphatically, are an essential component of the coalition he needs to pass a bullet-proof extension of California’s cap and trade system, a complex, market-based program viewed as the linchpin of his climate change fight.
“I am very confident that the key to that objective are Republicans,” Brown told reporters.

Brown has made climate change the focus of his return to the governorship. He’s hammered Donald Trump for his withdrawal from the Paris accords and cast GOP climate skeptics as “troglodytes.” He’s just returned from China, where he held up the state’s environmental policies as a model for the world.
Now he wants to convince two-thirds of the Legislature to keep a version of the program going beyond 2020. He believes he needs Republicans because he can’t count on all the votes from Democrats, including an influential bloc of business-friendly lawmakers. He has argued in the past that businesses should prefer to keep the system intact rather than face more stringent controls.

Brown’s negotiating moves at the Capitol in recent weeks underscore the lengths he is willing to go to maintain his state’s status as a global climate leader. Arriving at a compromise, however, has proven difficult.
Cautious lawmakers say privately they are not especially keen on sticking out their necks for a program many concede they don’t fully understand and that critics could cast as raising gas prices again.
Environmentalists fret that an eventual deal will be too friendly to the oil industry and impede the state’s ability to meet its aggressive greenhouse gas emissions targets.
Republicans say they want to be part of the solution, as long as costs for consumers and industry are kept down.
While early drafts of bill language circulate, the Brown administration stresses it’s continuing to work with everyone: legislators, environmental organizations, agriculture, business interests, groups worried about low-income communities that historically have struggled with pollution.
“We have to put the coalition together,” Nancy McFadden, Brown’s executive secretary, said in an interview Thursday. “Are we going to get all Republicans? Absolutely not. Do we want more than one or two? Yes. Are we going to get all moderate Democrats, whoever they are? No, probably not. And are we going to get all progressives? No. But we are aiming to get 54 (votes), or more.”

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