Gov. Jerry Brown makes full-throated public and private pitches for climate change deal

Gov. Jerry Brown warned in a legislative committee hearing Thursday morning of threats to human existence and American democracy should lawmakers not pass his plan to fight climate change.

"A lot of you people are going to be alive, and you’re going to be alive in a horrible situation," Brown said turning to the crowd in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee hearing. "This isn't for me, I'm going to be dead. This is for you, and it's real!"

The 79-year-old Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) on Monday unveiled a plan to extend through 2030 the state's cap-and-trade program, which forces businesses to pay to pollute, and strengthen the state's air quality rules. Thursday morning was the first public hearing for the legislation.

In his remarks before the committee, Brown positioned California as a world leader in the fight against climate change and contrasted the state with the federal government's position. He warned that unless lawmakers approve the deal, state regulators would act to reduce carbon emissions in a less efficient way.

"The science will only get clearer, and we’re not going to pull back," Brown said. "The only question is: How do we go forward?"

The governor remained in the hearing, which continued into the afternoon, turning in his chair to listen to a long line of supporters and opponents who testified on the plan. As they spoke, the governor took notes on a legal pad.

Brown also made his case to Assembly Democrats in a closed-door caucus meeting earlier Thursday. And the cavalry of outside interests have stepped up their advocacy for the legislation, with groups backing the deal — including labor unions such as the Service Employees International Union, utility companies and green businesses — releasing letters of support.

The California Chamber of Commerce endorsed one component of the package, the reauthorization of the cap-and-trade system, as "balanced [and] well-designed," while staying silent on a companion measure meant to reduce local air pollution.

But the support from business interests so far hasn't swayed Republicans, who Brown has been wooing to secure a two-thirds vote to guard the program against legal challenges. Assembly GOP Leader Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) said there were no "yes" votes among his caucus members for the proposal "in its current form."

"Today, we are in sight of a bipartisan agreement to cut taxes, roll back regulations and government overreach, and reduce costs for ordinary Californians and businesses while doing our part to protect the environment for future generations," Mayes said in a statement. "Unfortunately, this historic agreement remains elusive."

Senate Republicans also staked out opposition. Senate GOP Leader Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Nigel) wrote in a letter to Brown that cap-and-trade's reauthorization, coupled with the higher gas taxes approved earlier this year, would be a "crushing blow" to Californians. All but two members of her caucus, Sens. Anthony Cannella of Ceres and Tom Berryhill of Modesto, signed on.

Read the entire article at LATimes.com