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California sends message to Trump by extending cap and trade

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Legislators for the nation’s most populous state have clearly sided with global carbon reduction efforts by extending a cap-and-trade law for another decade.

California’s state senate and assembly both voted Monday evening to approve the extension that would require carbon-polluting companies to buy permits for their emissions. The law pushes those requirements through 2030.

The law goes to California Gov. Jerry Brown, who is assured of signing it. The cap-and-trade law, which originated in 2012, would have lapsed in 2020 without the extension, according to reports.

"Tonight, California stood tall and once again, boldly confronted the existential threat of our time," Brown said in a statement. “That’s what good government looks like.”

California’s move counters that of President Donald Trump, who pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord several weeks ago. The state’s vote was bipartisan on the assembly level, although only one Republican voted for it in the state senate.

Not surprisingly, environmental groups applauded the cap-and-trade extension. Earlier, however, some groups hadopposed it as not progressive enough.

 “We applaud the California Legislature for voting to extend the state's effective cap-and-trade program, which will drive economic growth in the next decade while transforming our energy infrastructure to secure, clean, affordable sources,” said Graham Richard, CEO of Advanced Energy Economy, in a statement Monday night. “Today, California leads in the $200 billion U.S. advanced energy market, supporting more than half a million jobs in the state. By extending cap and trade on a bipartisan basis, the California Legislature, working with Gov. Brown, has taken action to keep the momentum going for jobs and the economy.”

California’s program is second in size globally only to the European Union’s Emissions Trading System, according to reports. The benchmark cap began in 2013 at 2 percent below the emissions level forecast for the previous year, according to the website for the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Resources Board. The decline was set at 2 percent for 2014 and then 3 percent annually for the next five years.

Polluters can trade allowances to minimize cost of pollution controls, according to the plan.

Opponent say the law raises costs for gasoline and other household energy needs. On Monday, however, Steven Cliff of the California Air Resources Board told the Senate that cap-and-trade will save the average household about $200 per year compared to direct government regulation of greenhouse gases, according to a story on the Sacramento Bee website.

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