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California Governor Signs Two Major Climate Change Bills

Amid a chorus of praise from California's environmental and climate activist groups, California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed into law two precedent-setting bills (SB 32 and AB 197) designed to accelerate the state's reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by deemphasizing the burning of fossil fuels while increasing reliance on renewable energy, storage and efficiency.

Passed easily by the Democratic-controlled legislature last month (see Daily GPIAug. 25), SB 32 and AB 197 were signed by Brown with the legislators at his side. He noted that this pair of bills will require California to cut GHG emissions at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, along with investing in communities hardest hit by climate change.

Calling climate change "real" and the state's new laws "far-reaching," Brown pledged to continue the state on its "path of vast innovation and environmental resilience."

Twenty-nine leaders of environmental, business, labor union, scientific and public policy organizations called "California Delivers" praised the new law for "extending and bolstering California's trailblazing fight against climate change." The Environmental Defense Fund's Timothy O'Connor said both Californians and people around the world "will benefit from this new set of climate laws."

Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said despite strong opposition from the oil industry, the legislature did its job, and now "California is showing our nation and world what can, and must, be done to reduce the dangerous pollution fueling climate change."

Brown noted that the current bill signing comes 10 years after the state adopted what at the time was the toughest GHG emission reduction goals in the nation with the passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32).

The lower house Assembly -- where AB 32 was originated a decade earlier -- will remain "vigilant and vigorous in making sure California's climate change goals are met," said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, who noted that SB 32 extends the state's landmark GHG emission reduction goals, and AB 197 "changes the game on how we make sure those goals are reached."

Although California emits about 1% of the world's GHG gases, the state is taking a leading role in broadening collaboration among subnational leaders, a Brown spokesperson said.

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