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California senators float post-2020 climate change bill

climate change
climate change

By Rory Carroll

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Two California state senators released a bill on Wednesday that would give regulators the authority to design a plan to meet the state's long-term greenhouse gas reduction goals and improve air quality in the state's poorest communities.

The bill is an effort by Democratic senators Fran Pavley and Ricardo Lara to get the legislature's blessing for an extension of the state's pioneering climate change efforts beyond the end of the decade.

But it would leave details of how to achieve the state's goals to the California Air Resources Board, which is already working on a post-2020 climate change plan.

"This bill looks to the future, sending a clear signal that California intends to continue its climate leadership," Pavley said.

The bill brings together Pavley, the author of the state's landmark 2006 bill that set its 2020 and 2050 targets, and Lara, who in the past has been critical of components of the state's cap and trade program, a key state policy.

The bill reflects Lara's long running concern for residents in the state's most disadvantaged communities, where air quality tends to be worse.

It emphasizes the need for the state to cut not only carbon emissions, but also its output of pollutants like black carbon and methane, which not only impact global warming but also have put the San Joaquin Valley, Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento out of compliance with the Clean Air Act.

"We must ensure that all communities, including disadvantaged communities throughout California, have the promise of a clean environment today and into the future," Lara said.

The bill directs state air regulators to recommend a timetable of post-2020 pollution reductions before January 1, 2016.

That timetable is expected to include a 2030 emissions reduction target.

Due in part to an uptick in renewable energy production, California is on track to meet its goal of cutting emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020, state officials said recently.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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