- Associated Press - Friday, October 17, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday that he will push next year to set even higher greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for California, where the nation’s toughest carbon standards already are causing anxiety among businesses and consumers.

“We want to set in the coming year a goal for 2030 which is far more stringent, and it’ll be far more difficult,” Brown said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

California’s current carbon emissions law, signed in 2006, sets goals through 2020. If Brown wins re-election in November, the Democratic governor said he would bring together environmentalists, oil companies and transportation companies to accomplish the “challenge and opportunity.”

“California has the most integrated response and strategy to deal with climate change of any political jurisdiction in the world. And we’re going to continue doing that,” Brown said.

The current target includes a so-called carbon tax on consumer fuels starting Jan. 1, which the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates could boost the cost of gasoline by 13 to 20 cents a gallon by 2020. It projected that the increase could eventually reach 50 cents a gallon.

The governor did not endorse further increases in the price of gas in setting and reaching a new emissions goal, but the so-called carbon tax has drawn the most criticism and attention this year.

Jay McKeeman, vice president of the California Independent Oil Marketers Association, said it is premature to consider expanding a law that is just taking effect. His group estimates fuel prices will rise by 9 to 12 cents a gallon starting in the new year.

“I find it difficult to accept that we’re going to tighten the screws without even really fully understanding what people are going to be saddled with,” he said.

Brown’s Republican challenger in the governor’s race, former U.S. Treasury official Neel Kashkari, opposes the emissions law and has said he would rescind it.

“Once again, he’s demonstrating that he is totally out of touch with the struggles of working families. This is the most regressive tax imaginable and he just doesn’t get it,” Kashkari said Friday.

Brown also offered his most detailed response to date on a scandal involving appointees to the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates utilities.

Board President Michael Peevey and commissioner Mike Florio have been under fire since emails were made public showing they had behind-the-scenes dealings with officials from Pacific Gas & Electric. Peevey announced he would not seek reappointment when his term ends in November, and Florio, whom Brown appointed in 2011, has recused himself from matters involving PG&E.;

Brown called the emails “troubling” but said he will wait for the results of investigations by federal authorities and California Attorney General Kamala Harris. He is considering Peevey’s replacement.

“I would say, whatever problems there are, they’re coming to light and I think over the next year we’ll be in a very good position, particularly with fresh eyes and new leadership, to get to a much better place,” he said.

The 76-year-old governor also described some of his other goals for the next four years if he is re-elected to an unprecedented fourth term. They include:

- Bringing “warring factions together” on issues of school and teacher performance, which Brown said he is uniquely positioned to do because of his good relationships with teachers unions, school reformers and charter schools.

- Consolidating more than 5,000 complex criminal justice laws that have led to longer prison sentences and crowded prisons by working with groups to “come up with a more thoughtful and more balanced program of social control.”

- Remain vigilant on state spending with “a lot of saying no” to interest groups seeking more money for their programs. He also said he believes the temporary sales and property taxes voters approved in 2012 to help stabilize the state budget should remain temporary.

On the controversial issue of teacher tenure, Brown said the restrictions that make it difficult to fire incompetent teachers are cumbersome. Brown and the state’s powerful teachers unions have appealed a Los Angeles Superior Court judge’s ruling that said the state’s tenure laws violate the California Constitution by depriving some students of a quality education. Brown said the issue only affects 1 to 3 percent of teachers but that he appealed because he is seeking legal clarity.

“I would by no means understate the problem of dismissal procedures,” he said. “They are cumbersome and I’ve tried to change them, and I’ve changed them somewhat, but obviously, more would make a lot of sense.”

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide