California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) was joined by his Republican predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger at a signing ceremony to extend the state's cap-and-trade program. Assembly Bill 398 will keep cap and trade around until 2030 rather than seeing it expire in 2020. California has the only such program in the country, which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas emissions. "You're here witnessing one of the key milestones in turning around this carbonized world into a decarbonized sustainable future," Brown said.

The bill was signed into law on Tuesday at the same place where as governor, Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 32 in 2006, thus providing the foundation for cap and trade. Schwarzenegger put on a display of bipartisanship and continuity to the proceedings. 

While environmentalists were afraid that Bill 398 would not be stringent enough, Brown was able to convince environmental groups, business organizations, and eight Republicans to sign onto it. The bill limits carbon emissions and also requires polluters to obtain permits to release greenhouse gases. 

Republican Schwarzenegger openly rebuked President Donald Trump, who recently pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, which was one of Barack Obama’s signature achievements. "America is fully in the Paris agreement. There's only one man that dropped out," Schwarzenegger said of Trump. "America did not drop out."

Schwarzenegger also pointed to the bipartisan support that lawmakers in the Democratic-dominated Legislature gave to extending the cap-and-trade program by 10 years. "This is a very important message. A message that we have a functional government in California where Democrats and Republicans work together," he said.

Standing with San Francisco Bay behind him, where cameras could see man-made Treasure Island and which would supposedly go under the waves should the seas rise due to the melting of the polar caps, Brown warned of dire consequences that may come from climate change brought on by the use of fossil fuels. "If we don't do something about it, it is the end of the world," said Brown. Cap and trade, said Brown, "is an absolute requirement for the survival and the world," he told reporters.

Anti-tax activists and a few Republicans fear that higher prices for food and energy will ensue. "Gov. Brown and his cadre of climate change extremists won't be happy until California leads the nation in wind, solar and poverty," said Republican state Sen. Ted Gaines in a statement.

Under the program, some carbon permits are free, while others are auctioned, thus generating billions of dollars in revenue for the state. The money is a key funding source for Brown’s pet programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as a planned high-speed train between San Francisco and Los Angeles. 




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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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