California Democrats are seeking to penalize companies who are forced to buy greenhouse gas (GHG) emission permits as part of California’s “cap-and-trade” program, fresh off a victory over business owners who sued to have the program overturned as an illegal tax.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Senate Bill 755, introduced Monday, would “toughen California’s cap-and-trade program in hopes of providing a more dependable revenue stream and greater incentives for industries to clean up their operations.”
The bill eliminates the allotment of free permits, parceled out in limited quantities to enable smaller companies to comply with the state’s GHG mandates, and raises the cost of permits altogether. It also bans companies from paying for “offsets” that are not under control of the government, which are often “green projects” that involve planting trees by non-governmental organizations.
Some believe the timing of the bill is not coincidental. Chris Rufer, founder and owner of Morning Star — the company whose challenge was denied by a California appeals court — spoke exclusively to Breitbart News.
“I can’t read minds, but it seems to be obvious that this bill is a reaction to the lawsuit,” Rufer told Breitbart News by phone.
“Gov. [Jerry] Brown is pushing now for a two-thirds vote because he knows he’s wrong. It was an illegally passed tax — and now they want to prevent future legal challenges,” Rufer said.
“But it’s not true for them to claim they’re just taxing businesses,” Rufer continued, “That’s just a shell game because it increases the cost of manufacturing and the cost of goods and services, and businesses just act as a ‘pass-through’ of cash from consumer to the bureaucratic, parasitic class.”
For California Democrats, this is a win-win. They can crack down on business owners who dared oppose their power in court, while simultaneously tapping some of the increased cap-and-trade revenue stream to provide “rebates” to California voters to offset the higher cost of gasoline taxes.
“We feel comfortable where this is threading the needle,” Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), the bill’s author, explained to the Times.
If passed, the bill may give vulnerable Democrats a political “hall pass” just in time for the next campaign season by enabling them to point out how they penalized the rich in order to lower the impact of higher gas taxes on the working poor.
SB 755 includes a hard cap to keep GHG emission permit pricing artificially low, or at least under control, as this proposed bill is likely to spike pricing. With a small group of Republican legislators— including Assembly Republican minority leader Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) — now embracing Brown’s push to tighten emissions, Democrats have been emboldened and are pushing a bill to bring certain other pollutants under the same control, driving up costs even higher at the expense of already beleaguered business owners.