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California lawmakers hope new climate change proposal will help low-income communities harmed by pollution

Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (at podium) and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (second from left) announced new legislation on climate change on Thursday. (Chris Megerian / Los Angeles Times)
Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (at podium) and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (second from left) announced new legislation on climate change on Thursday. (Chris Megerian / Los Angeles Times)

California lawmakers on Thursday announced a new effort to address climate change with an increased focus on finding ways to help communities harmed by pollution and poverty.

As reported earlier , the legislation, AB 378, represents an opening bid in the conversation about how to handle the state's cap-and-trade program, which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas emissions.

Although Gov. Jerry Brown has asked lawmakers to extend the program, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) said they're not ready to commit to that.

"Before we get there, we need to make sure social justice, environmental justice is addressed," she said.

The measure will likely be fleshed out more as negotiations continue. At this point, it directs state regulators to center climate programs around public health goals and other local issues.

The announcement drew some notable supporters, including representatives from national environmental groups, environmental justice advocates and trade unions.

Given divergent opinions about cap and trade, keeping all parties at the table will be a challenge. And the hurdle will only be more difficult if lawmakers push for a two-thirds vote, the threshold needed to safeguard cap-and-trade revenue from legal challenges.

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