In a major setback for environmentalists, California has dropped proposed legislation that sought to require a 50% reduction in petroleum use in motor vehicles by 2030. The petroleum reduction was intended to help produce an 80% decrease in carbon emissions by the year 2050, utilizing emission levels seen in 1990 as a baseline. Even though the governor, Jerry Brown, fought hard for the legislation, the oil industry pushed back and defeated the proposal.
The oil industry launched a major campaign against the legislation claiming that the 50% mandate would mean higher electricity and fuel costs. Its advertisements also asserted that the mandate could result in fuel rationing and/or bans on sports utility vehicles.
Supporters of the legislation claim those allegations are simply false as the bill does not mention rationing or bans on SUVs. However, the campaign seemed to work and caused many lawmakers to oppose the bill.
California’s Senate Democratic leader and major supporter of the bill, Kevin de Leon, stated that, “Big Oil might be on the right side of their shareholder reports, but we’re on the right side of history. And ultimately, California is going to demand that an industry which represents most of the problem has an economic and moral duty to be part of the solution.”
Brown echoed those sentiments pronouncing that, “Oil has won the skirmish but they’ve lost the bigger battle. Because I am more determined than ever to make our regulatory regime work for the people of California: cleaning up the air, reducing the petroleum and creating the green jobs that are going to put hundreds of thousands of people to work over the coming decades.”
In order to compromise, de Leon stated that he would delete the petroleum requirement from the bill but leave in two other parts that draw less contention. One measure would mandate that one-half of all of California’s energy come from renewable resources, such as wind, by 2030. The other measure aims at doubling the energy efficiencies of older buildings.
In response to the drop of the petroleum reduction mandate, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, stated that she was happy with the decision and claimed that oil companies “remain committed to working with Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators on climate change and energy policy. Californians are best served by inclusive energy policy and by a legislative body that retains authority on issues so critically important to jobs, communities and our way of life.”