The California Legislature has approved Assembly Bill 398, extending the state’s greenhouse gas, cap and trade program to 2030. The bill passed with a two-thirds super majority and Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill soon.
Several agricultural groups, along with many business and industry organizations, supported the passage of AB 398 and contributed in various ways to help secure the two-thirds vote in both legislative chambers. The bill will create cost containment mechanisms in order to meet the greenhouse gas emissions reduction levels provided by a law enacted last year. Without AB 398, the California Air Resources Board would retain the statutory authority to implement costly control measures regulating emissions.
The cap and trade program is believed to be the least expensive method of reducing carbon emissions and is three to five times cheaper than other approaches. AB 398 enables the continuation of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Investments, which fund several Climate Smart Agriculture programs such as the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, and the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program. The bill also maintains current industry assistance levels and establishes a Compliance Offset Protocol Task Force that will create new offset opportunities, including in the agricultural industry.