Senate Republicans Hold California Budget Hostage, Demand Loophole for Global Warming Polluters

Last sticking point would weaken state environmental law

SACRAMENTO (August 2, 2007) – The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has learned from Capitol sources that the last remaining item holding up passage of the California state budget is Senate Republicans’ demand for a major loophole under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The lawmakers want to exempt global warming pollution from review and mitigation under the act.
The lawmakers are doing the bidding of the same special interests – oil refineries and developers – who tried unsuccessfully to block passage last year of the landmark California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), according to NRDC. The law requires California to reduce its global warming pollution to 1990 levels by 2020.
“Senate Republicans are using the budget process to try to slow down California’s historic global warming efforts,” said Ann Notthoff, NRDC California advocacy director. “We’ve started making real progress in implementing the law, but success depends on reviewing and taking steps to prevent global warming pollution from new projects.”
The latest maneuver shows how a powerful minority of lawmakers is out of touch with popular opinion in California, according to NRDC. A poll released last week by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shows that large and growing numbers of Californians (81 percent) believe it is necessary to take immediate steps to counter the effects of global warming. Sixty percent of Republicans say that steps to curb global warming should be taken right away. Seventy-eight percent of residents support the Global Warming Solutions Act.
Senate Republicans are demanding additional cuts to programs that protect the environment and public health. These include:
  • A $15 million cut to the State Parks Department,
  • Weakening clean air funding requirements for rail,
  • Cuts to transit,
  • A $2.4 million cut to funds for constructing green state buildings, and
  • A $200,000 cut to the Coastal Commission budget for webcasting its hearings to the public.