Brown, Schwarzenegger Celebrate Extension of Cap and Trade

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Gov. Jerry Brown and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger walk in the state Capitol in 2014. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A key tool to help California reach ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals will continue for decades to come, as Gov. Jerry Brown signed an extension of the state’s cap-and-trade program on Tuesday.

Brown was joined by legislative leaders and his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to sign Assembly Bill 398 on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. The legislation extends the system through which the state limits greenhouse gases from companies by creating a marketplace for emissions.

"We are a nation-state in a globalizing world and we’re having an impact," Brown said. "You’re here witnessing one of the key milestones in turning around this carbonized world into a decarbonized sustainable future."

More than a decade ago, Schwarzenegger stood in the same spot to sign Assembly Bill 32. That bill both set emission reduction goals for California and authorized the creation of the cap-and-trade program.


At the time, the Republican governor predicted that the law would "begin a whole new era of environmental protection in California that will change the course of history," and that the federal government would follow the state's lead.

More than a decade later, Schwarzenegger acknowledged that California's emission reduction goals and cap-and-trade program stand as progressive outposts, rather than bellwethers, for federal climate policy.

"The states and the cities in America, the private sector, the academic sector, the scientists, everyone is still in the Paris agreement, There is only one man that dropped out," he said, referring to President Trump. "But America did not drop out."

Both Brown and Schwarzenegger made note of the bipartisan nature of the extension.

Eight Republicans legislators voted for AB 398, a move that has caused turmoil within the caucus and state party.

Schwarzenegger said that California's economic growth should silence conservative critics who contend that the cap-and-trade program will hurt businesses.

"Don’t those conservative Republicans get the message?" he asked. "Stop lying to the people! Stop it!”

Brown openly embraced the business community in his address, noting the many business lobbyists and representatives in attendance.

“Some people say, ‘Oh my god, we don’t like those people,' " he said. "Well let’s face it, this is California. Our industry, our wealth, our whole well-being is the product of all these individuals and companies and organizations and cultural organizations and nonprofits, the whole thing."

The deal to extend the program was a carefully balanced effort that also included provisions to address local air quality.

Brown has not yet signed that separate bill, Assembly Bill 617, which increases monitoring and penalties on local polluters.