Cap-and-Trade Extension Links Air Quality Gains for Progress in Fight for Clean Air and Climate Stability

SACRAMENTO, CA – California leaders have proposed legislation to extend California’s cap-and-trade program, which acts as a backstop for the state’s comprehensive program to cut the dangerous emissions driving climate change, through 2030 as part of a two-bill package that also doubles down on local air pollution, especially in hard-hit neighborhoods.

The proposed legislation culminates weeks of back-and-forth negotiations. The cap-and-trade extension is part of Assembly Bill 398 sponsored by Assembly member Eduardo Garcia. The air quality improvement bill, Assembly Bill 617, is led by Assembly members Cristina Garcia, Eduardo Garcia, and Miguel Santiago. The bills could be voted on by the California legislature as early as Thursday evening. 

Following is a statement from Alex Jackson, legal director of NRDC’s California climate project:

“The legislation represents a big step forward to continue California’s global climate leadership. The concessions to industry are bitter pills, but on balance the package ensures our emissions limits are enforceable against polluters and secures critical gains to improve air quality for millions of Californians. The world is watching for California to chart a path through the climate denial and obstruction coming from the White House – and California is yet again poised to deliver.” 

David Pettit, senior attorney with NRDC’s southern California air program, added:

“The air quality proposal would end the grandfathering of old, dilapidated equipment at oil refineries and other large polluters that hasn’t been updated in decades. It also would enhance the enforcement tools that regulators need to hold polluters accountable. The new community action plans offer the possibility of real, serious air quality improvement where it's needed most, from mobile and stationary sources of pollution, backed by a commitment of dedicated funding.”

The legislation was announced just a few weeks after the California Supreme Court refused to consider a challenge by business groups that argued the proceeds from selling emissions allowances through the cap-and-trade auctions were taxes and therefore required approval by two-thirds of the Legislature. That decision ended a legal fight that had cast a shadow over the program out to 2020.



The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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