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Gov. Jerry Brown takes aim at oil companies over 'highly destructive' product

Gov. Jerry Brown takes aim at oil companies over 'highly destructive' product
Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a conference at Lake Tahoe, Nev., on Monday. He's been pushing legislation to reduce gasoline use, arousing oil industry opposition. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Gov. Jerry Brown, who is in the middle of a political battle over climate-change legislation, took aim at oil companies Monday, saying they sell a "highly destructive" product.

"The oil industry is in deep trouble," the governor told reporters Monday at a news conference on the shores of Lake Tahoe, where he was attending an annual meeting about the area's environment.

Oil companies "have a product that is highly destructive, while highly valuable at the same time. And we're trying to work out the right policies," he said.

Brown has proposed cutting California's consumption of gasoline in half by 2030. Lawmakers are considering a measure to achieve that goal, as well as other steps intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The legislation has passed the state Senate but is facing some trouble in the Assembly, where business-friendly Democrats hold more sway.

Oil companies have ramped up their opposition, saying the legislation would lead to gasoline rationing — a contention the measure's supporters reject.

Brown said the oil industry is "making up things," adding that more-efficient vehicles, more mass transit and better city planning would help the state reach his target.

"I have no intention of backing down," the governor said. "We're going to intensify our efforts to do lower-carbon fuels and lower-carbon pollution, now and into the future."

Brown said he would be working with lawmakers to pass the bill before the legislative session ends Sept. 11. Nine former legislative leaders issued statements of support Monday.

Follow @chrismegerian for more updates from Sacramento.

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