A small group of California Republican legislators are reversing their opposition to AB 32 — the “Global Warming Solutions Act” — and embracing California’s controversial climate change policies.
The act was originally signed into law by a Republican, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Since the, the Los Angeles Times reports, despite the fact that climate change has become a conservative litmus test of sorts, some California Republicans are bucking the rest of their party in the belief that doing so will make them more relevant to Golden State voters.
“Californians, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, are different from the rest of the country,” Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes told the Times. Mayes represents some of the most conservative enclaves of Riverside and San Bernardino counties — where opposition to AB 32 is almost a requirement to get elected. “What they’re doing back in Washington, D.C., is not what we’re going to be doing in California.”
Even though Mayes and most of his caucus voted against the new, more stringent regulations for cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to even lower levels by 2030, now that the new goals are in place, he wants to help Democrats extend the cap-and-trade program, which enforces an “energy tax” on companies that produce GHGs.
At a hearing on the new gas tax earlier this month, the Times reported that Bakersfield Assemblyman Vince Fong criticized one impact the extension of the program would have on low-income working people, citing higher gas prices.
Gov. Jerry Brown reportedly retorted, “Look, cap and trade is about climate change, which you don’t believe in and your president says is a hoax.”
Mayes reportedly said that doesn’t apply to him, “acknowledging the reality of climate change and humanity’s contributions to the problem.”
“It would be foolish not to engage,” said Mayes.
The shift comes after a lawsuit brought by one major California food producer, tomato processor Morning Star, failed in its effort to convince a California court to reclassify the cap-and-trade program as an “illegal tax,” since it was only passed by a simple majority, not the two-thirds required by the California Constitution.
Mayes may be naive to believe that Democrats would be willing to negotiate any limitations on the price of emission credits or any kind of offsetting tax rebates. California’s Democrats have all the votes they need to pass anything they want, and if they were to negotiate key provisions away to gain a handful of Republican votes, there is a risk they would lose support from their own caucus.
Some Republicans are not merely positioning themselves politically, but seem to be buying into the alarmist climate change narrative. Unfortunately, most of the same “experts” who are predicting doomsday — rising temperatures, rising sea levels, more dramatic weather-related disasters — have made it clear that no amount of drop in the level of GHGs or the temperature is likely to reverse the damage they believe has already been done.
“You look on what’s going on in the Antarctic, in the North Pole, you look at the issue of sea-level rise. It’s an issue that we need to be concerned about,” said Assemblyman Rocky Chávez (R-Oceanside) in an interview with the Times. “We want to be part of the solution.”
If Gov. Brown is able to marshal Republican support for an ever-increasing clamp-down on GHGs in California —which may soon include setting pollutant levels for asthma-causing substances in “disadvantaged neighborhoods” — tat may undermine President Trump’s efforts to withdraw from such efforts internationally.
And those wayward Republicans might find out that the political ecosystem is not nearly as forgiving as the natural one, come election time.