California 'job killer' bill aims to reduce emissions

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 9/3/2015

A bill on the move at the California statehouse would have severe ramifications for professional drivers.

In an effort to reduce pollution and cut the state’s oil consumption, the full Assembly could soon vote on a bill from Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, to enact energy policies that include a requirement for the use of gas and diesel in the state to be trimmed in half in the next 15 years.

The legislative effort comes on the heels of an executive order this spring from Gov. Jerry Brown that calls for a 40 percent cut to the state’s emissions. He wants them down from 1990 levels by 2030.

De Leon’s bill would also mandate a 50 percent increase in sales of renewable electricity, and a doubling of the energy efficiency of buildings by 2030.

California law now requires the state’s Air Resources Board to adopt and implement motor vehicle emission standards, in-use performance standards, and motor vehicle fuel specifications to control air contaminants and sources of air pollution.

CARB would have ongoing costs of up to $1.5 million annually to implement the petroleum reduction goal and to develop policies to remove regulatory disincentives and facilitate greenhouse gas reductions through transportation electrification, according to the bill analysis.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to the bill.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA’s director of state legislative affairs, said SB350 would give CARB additional authority to issue more emissions reduction mandates.

“New mandates could potentially jeopardize current and future investments that owner-operators continue to make to comply with existing ARB regulations, as well as the viability of small-business trucking in California altogether,” Matousek said.

He said the Association’s more than 155,000 members nationwide and nearly 5,000 residing in the state support a cleaner environment. However, he said environmental changes can and should be achieved without unpredictable, costly, and crippling mandates.

“We urge the Legislature to reject SB350 in its current form, consider alternatives that have a more balanced cost-benefit analysis, and ensure that past, present and future investments in ARB-certified equipment are adequately protected from new regulations.”

The California Chamber of Commerce is also opposed to the bill. The chamber refers to the bill as a “job killer” that would also give CARB “broad and undefined authority … to adopt regulations, standards and specifications.”

Despite criticism, the Democratic governor has said he has no intention of backing down in his efforts to achieve lower-carbon fuels and lower-carbon pollution.

SB350 also has support in Washington, D.C. California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer wrote a joint letter to state Assembly members encouraging them to pass the bill. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also weighed in on the issue.

 “We’re running out of time to address the climate crisis. … I hope my friends in the California legislature can lead by example,” Pelosi said in prepared remarks.

If approved by the California Assembly, the bill would head back to the Senate for consideration of changes before it could advance to the governor’s desk. However, time is running out. The session is set to end Sept. 11.

To view other legislative activities of interest for California, click here.

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