An ambitious goal to reduce California's oil consumption by 50 percent over the next 15 years has been dropped from key climate change legislation, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders announced Wednesday, a victim of a bitter campaign waged against the bill by petroleum companies.
Brown said the oil industry had "won the skirmish but will lose the war," insisting the state can still reach the 50 percent target through its existing regulatory structure, without immediately enshrining the target into law.
"Nothing is a bigger threat than climate change," a defiant Brown said late Wednesday afternoon, two days before the end of the legislative session -- the deadline for Senate Bill 350 to get a vote this year.
The governor and SB350's main architect, Senate leader Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, said the oil industry's main goal was actually to include provisions in SB350 that would strip power from the California Air Resources Board, the regulatory agency that has overseen the state's ambitious push toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The board has been a frequent target of Republicans and business groups opposed to the state's already-ambitious climate change laws.
"Look, we had a long discussion. It's very simple -- if we said, 'Turn every rule that the ARB makes over to the Legislature,' then we get the bill, if we don't do that, then (they) kill it," Brown said of negotiations with oil companies in recent days.