Oil companies confirm talks over California climate programs

The Associated Press

Officials representing oil companies say they are in talks with Gov. Jerry Brown's administration about changes to California's carbon-emissions programs, including his vaunted program requiring companies to buy pollution credits, which faces an uncertain future.

In this May 18, 2016 file photo, California Gov. Jerry Brown gestures during a community event in Sacramento, Calif. Oil companies say they are in talks with Gov. Jerry Brown's administration about changes to the state's carbon-emissions programs, including his vaunted program requiring companies to buy pollution credits, Thursday, July 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Officials representing oil companies say they are in talks with Gov. Jerry Brown's administration about changes to California's carbon-emissions programs, including his vaunted program requiring companies to buy pollution credits, which faces an uncertain future.

Western States Petroleum Association President Catherine Reheis-Boyd said in a statement that her group has been engaged in ongoing talks on behalf of California's oil and gas industry "to improve the state's current climate change programs.

"We are serious and committed to improving the state's current programs and ensuring legislative oversight concerning the decisions that will determine California's next course of action to combat climate change," she said in a written statement.

The Los Angeles Times first reported on the talks.

The current cap-and-trade program only has authority to operate until 2020. Brown's administration plans next week to release a blueprint for extending the program until 2030, and there is legislation pending that would authorize it to continue. Still, only about a tenth of the available pollution credits were sold in a May auction, leaving the state billions short in projected revenues.

A state appeals court is also considering a challenge to the program by the California Chamber of Commerce, which argues that the program is an illegal tax, not a fee.

A spokeswoman for Brown, Deborah Hoffman, did not respond to a question on the talks, but said in a statement that the cap-and-trade program must be extended "and we will work hard to get that done."

"We will not meet our world-leading clean air and emission reduction targets unless we solidify and redouble our commitment to the state's cap and trade program and climate goals beyond 2020," she said in a written statement.

She said extending the program would ensure funding for clean energy programs in vulnerable communities.

A quarter of the cap-and-trade revenue is currently earmarked for Brown's high-speed rail project, with the rest funding a wide variety of programs aimed at reducing emissions or mitigating the damage from climate change.

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