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California: AB 32

What AB 32 does and why it’s important

California’s Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32), passed in 2006, is a landmark law that requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. In 2014, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released its updated plan that outlines how these reductions can be achieved. Major programs include:

These policies all work together to reduce GHG emissions and other pollutants and use less energy, while reducing energy costs and the public health burden from burning fossil fuels.

power plantStarting in January 2015, the law requires oil companies to join other huge emitters in reducing the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions.  Unfortunately, oil companies are renewing efforts to fight AB 32 and get a special exemption for fuels. Oil companies threaten that if they have to pay for or reduce their pollution, gas prices will skyrocket, but let’s look at the facts:

  1. Oil companies have way too much power over our wallets right now and are already able to squeeze us at will. For millions of drivers, oil is the only game in town. AB 32 is helping to change that by diversifying our fuel options and vehicle fleet.
  2. The transportation sector is the largest source of pollution in California, contributing nearly 70% of smog-forming emissions and 40% of the state’s carbon pollution. AB 32 is slashing carbon pollution and toxic and criteria pollutants so that our air will be safer to breathe.
  3. Thanks to special tax preferences, oil companies pay low taxes (just 11.7% over the past 5 years), but apparently spend the savings on lobbyists, NOT lower prices for consumers. In California alone, Chevron has spent $4.4 million on lobbying JUST SINCE JANUARY, and the Western States Petroleum Association (an industry trade group) has spent over $7 million. Oil companies can afford to be responsible for their pollution.

AB 32 is a well-grounded attempt to break oil’s stranglehold over transportation and will help give consumers more transportation choices and decrease the amount of fuel we need to get where we want and need to go. For more information check out our fact sheet or legislative handout.