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California Senate approves cap-and-trade extension

Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), left, talks with Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa) in the Capitol on Monday. None
Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), left, talks with Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa) in the Capitol on Monday.

State senators advanced legislation to extend California's cap-and-trade program in a narrow vote Monday.

All Democrats voted yes, and they were joined by one Republican, Sen. Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto). 

The measure, Assembly Bill 398, now goes to the Assembly for another vote before it can reach Gov. Jerry Brown's desk. 

“No plan is perfect when you’re required by design to have a compromise," said Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). “We can’t let the perfect get in the way of the good.”

Cap and trade requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas emissions, a system intended to provide a financial incentive for companies to clean up their operations. The program was launched almost five years ago, and the new legislation would keep it operating until 2030. 

Most Republicans argued in opposition. Sen. Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) said it was a mistake to extend the program because the state only represents a fraction of the world's emissions.

"We could shut down the entire state of California, and it would have absolutely no effect on the global climate," he said.

Berryhill defended his support for the legislation by saying he was able to prevent even more onerous climate policies. 

"Instead of sitting on the sideline and watching everything go off a cliff, I was able to ensure farmers, small-business owners and rural Californians were well-represented and protected in the negotiation," he said in a statement.

A second measure, Assembly Bill 617, was also approved by senators to tackle air pollution that causes local public health problems.

In addition, senators passed another related bill, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1. The proposal would place a measure on next year's ballot that would require a one-time higher vote threshold for spending cap-and-trade revenue.

The proposal was a request from Assembly Republicans who hope it gives them more influence on how the money is used.

This post has been updated with details about ACA 1 passing the Senate. 

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