July 14, 2017

Polluters Will Pay and Communities Will Benefit Under AB 398 and AB 617

OAKLAND, CA (July 14, 2017)—On Monday, July 17, lawmakers in Sacramento will vote on two critical bills: AB 398 (E. Garcia) would extend California's landmark climate legislation that makes polluters pay for their emissions and AB 617 (C. Garcia, E. Garcia, Santiago) would pass some of the strongest air quality protections in California’s history.

Below is a statement by Adrienne Alvord, California & Western States director at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Alvord served as lead staff for California State Senator Fran Pavley on the passage of the California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), the state’s landmark climate law.

“The Union of Concerned Scientists supports AB 398 and AB 617 to preserve California’s historic global warming program.

“These bills require hundreds of companies in California to continue to pay for their pollution. In turn, that money will be invested in the communities most affected by polluters’ toxic impacts, and will support clean transportation and clean energy. The bills will help us dramatically lower carbon emissions while aggressively reducing air pollution and maintaining a strong economy. In addition, AB 398 keeps intact the renewable energy, clean car and clean truck programs that require direct emissions reductions from the transportation and energy sectors.

“The policies in AB 398 and AB 617 include a cap on global warming polluters, a substantial cut on offsets, protection for billions of dollars for community and clean energy investments, enhanced fence-line pollution monitoring and enforcement, increased penalties for pollution indexed to inflation, and enhanced protection for great programs that directly reduce air and global warming pollution like the Sustainable Freight Action Plan, Low Carbon Fuel Standard and Clean Cars plan. Without this bill package, we have no guarantee we can achieve any of these things.

“We recognize AB 398 is an imperfect bill. Pre-empting air districts' authority to regulate carbon dioxide limits regulatory flexibility, though the bill strongly protects all other air pollution regulatory authority. Not allowing the California Air Resources Board to directly regulate carbon dioxide emissions ties regulators to a single approach and ensuring that industry receives additional free allowances is unnecessary. But these measures do not compromise the cap on emissions.

“Some groups are strongly opposed because they feel these provisions help oil companies. We understand those frustrations. But these bills still fundamentally protect the policies we need to address global warming and reduce air pollution. On balance, we believe these two bills as they stand today are critical to making sure we meet our 2030 emissions reductions goal.

“At a time when federal climate leadership is absent, all eyes are on California to lead the world and demonstrate how the sixth largest economy in the world can cut its dependence on fossil fuels. We urge California’s state leaders to vote yes on AB 398 and AB 617.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.