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State government

A delay on cap-and-trade vote would be a victory for Donald Trump, Gov. Jerry Brown's office says

 (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Despite hesitance and resistance from state lawmakers, Gov. Jerry Brown is refusing to budge from his goal of reaching a deal next month to extend California's cap-and-trade program.

The latest tug-of-war on the issue came this week in an email exchange circulated among Capitol staff members and advocates working on climate change policies. 

Kip Lipper, an environmental advisor for Senate leadership, wrote in a Thursday email that there were "no plans to take up a cap and trade reauthorization bill anytime soon."

Echoing concerns that have percolated among lawmakers, Lipper said senators were "gas tax weary" about the possibility of another difficult vote after deciding to raise gas taxes to pay for road repairs earlier this year. 

The cap-and-trade program, which is a cornerstone of California's fight against global warming, requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas emissions and could boost the price of gasoline.

With votes hard to come by, Lipper wrote, the issue "should not be rushed."

Camille Wagner, Brown's legislative secretary, responded on Friday saying there was no reason to delay.

"We’ve all been meeting for months on this issue," she wrote. "We know the areas of agreement and disagreement – now is the time to work through those."

She added that "NOTHING is more important" than getting a deal as soon as possible.

"This is not a time for retreat or a time to give aid and comfort to Donald Trump by undermining a pillar of California’s bold program to arrest climate change," Wagner wrote. "If California’s Cap and Trade falls because we fail to act, climate denial wins."

Brown had already faced resistance to his push to reach a deal on cap and trade in June, when the state budget is due. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) previously said "we don't have to extend it this year." 

The disagreement over the timeline for reaching a deal is only one of the disputes surrounding cap and trade. 

Assembly leaders have raised the possibility of pushing legislation with only a majority vote, an idea the governor's office rejected. Brown wants a two-thirds vote to insulate cap and trade from legal challenges. 

There are also varied ideas about how the program should function in the future. Assembly legislation would modify cap and trade so it also targets local pollution, rather than just greenhouse gases. Senate legislation would make the program function more like a carbon tax. 

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