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California Legislature

A new proposal on California's cap-and-trade program emerges as vote is delayed

Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced), left. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced), left. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A coalition of business-friendly Democrats is detailing their own ideas for cap and trade, a centerpiece of California's fight against global warming, the latest bid in a crowded field of efforts to extend the program.

Cap and trade requires polluting companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas emissions, and lawmakers have been considering a push from Gov. Jerry Brown to extend the program beyond 2020.

The new plan would force the program to sunset in 2025, earlier than previous proposals from other lawmakers. It would also direct revenue from the program toward improving air quality and helping agricultural and trucking companies lower their emissions by replacing aging equipment.

The plan is also aimed at keeping costs down for industries regulated by cap and trade, allowing them to support green projects known as offsets instead of reducing their own emissions.

“California must continue to lead the world by implementing a strong climate policy that ensures both a healthy environment for future Californians and growth in all sectors of our economy," Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) said in a statement.

The pro-business Democrats' plan is the fourth such effort announced by various factions within the state's ruling Democratic Party this year with two others emerging from the Assembly and one from the Senate. The plans offer varying degrees of changes to the existing program, either to prioritize pollution reductions in disadvantaged communities or eliminate offsets. Republican lawmakers also have said they want to be part of the cap-and-trade debate

Brown has pushed for a two-thirds supermajority vote of the Legislature to extend the program by the state budget deadline next month. But Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said at a Wednesday news conference that that wasn't going to happen.

"Cap-and-trade is a very complex issue," De León said. "It's very arcane. We want to make sure we get it right."

De León said he hoped for a deal by the end of the year.

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