New Greenhouse Gas Legislation Signed by Governor Brown

By: Audrey Nickerson

The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) established the world’s first comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms to achieve reduction in greenhouse gases. Based on the 2013 Scoping Plan Update by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), California is on course to achieve the near-term 2020 emissions limit. With the 2020 goal originally established in AB 32 within our grasp, people are starting to wonder “what about post-2020?” The California legislature has been tackling this question, and two bills were just signed by the governor that provide concrete goals for greenhouse gas reduction beyond 2020: Senate Bill 32 (SB 32) and Assembly Bill 197 (AB 197).

California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: Emissions Limit (SB 32), requires California to reduce its GHG emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by December 31, 2030. The bill is short and sweet and does not introduce any explanation for how this goal will be accomplished, leaving the door open to innovation to solve the problem. The Assembly rejected SB 32 in 2015, but the Bill was then amended to remove the requirement that the State reduce petroleum usage by 50 percent by 2030.

State Air Resources Board: Greenhouse Gases: Regulations (AB 197), would instigate some major changes in how GHG emission reductions are set forth, and ultimately limit the authority of CARB. The Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies, created under AB 197, will oversee CARB’s emissions reduction efforts and make recommendations to the Legislature. Additionally, it requires CARB to prioritize emissions reductions that directly benefit polluted communities, which is the most controversial part of the Bill. CARB, which directs implementation of emission-reduction programs, will be required to target direct reductions in both stationary and mobile sources in communities that are negatively impacted by large GHG emitters.

On June 17, 2016, CARB released a 2030 Target Scoping Plan Concept Paper, which provides the overall framing for the Draft Scoping Plan, and lays out challenges and potential solutions for achieving the 2030 target under SB 32. The Concept Paper includes four potential concepts for achieving a 40% GHG reduction by 2030. CARB is currently holding public workshops to solicit comments on modeling efforts and scenarios for achieving the 2030 target. The most recent workshop was conducted on September 14, 2016, regarding the Transportation Sector. CARB has a webpage containing webcasts, additional information and updates on Scoping Plan Workshops to encourage public participation. As the Draft Scoping Plan is developed and refined, we will post updates and discuss how it will affect our communities and projects in the future.

Check out the full text of SB 32 and AB 197 for more information on California’s evolving GHG Regulations.