September 8, 2016 / 9:05 PM / a year ago

California tightens climate change rules under bills signed by governor

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California will tighten controls on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, factories and public utilities under a pair of bills signed on Thursday by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown.

The measures in the most populous U.S. state would extend by 10 years California’s main greenhouse gas reduction program and beef up oversight of the state agency charged with implementing it.

“Climate change is real, and knowing that, California is taking action,” Brown said.

The bills, which were opposed by most Republicans, extend the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction program to 2030 and require a reduction in carbon emissions to 40 percent below the level released in 1990.

The measures also increase oversight of the state’s air pollution control agency by appointing two members of the legislature to the State Air Resources Board and requiring the board to publish emissions data for factories, power companies and other facilities.

The stricter rules for carbon emissions, which contribute to global warming by trapping heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, come as a controversial program aimed at managing greenhouse gases has had mixed results.

That program, known as cap-and-trade, limits the total amount of emissions and allots companies that need to release gases, such as factories that use power to make their products, a certain number of allowances. Theoretically, firms that need fewer allowances can sell theirs at an auction, while those needing more can buy them.

Last month, state officials released disappointing results from an auction of carbon permits, but officials say they are still on track to meet emissions goals.

Brown, at the event, chided Republicans in the U.S. Congress who have opposed measures to control climate change, and he said California lawmakers, for their part, were moving forward.

“It’s going to take wisdom and it will take some balance that we don’t overdo it, but I‘m not afraid that we’re going to get to that point,” Brown said.

But Republicans, particularly in oil-producing areas, say the state’s existing greenhouse gas reduction targets have already cost jobs and increased the cost of electricity. They also question how Democratic lawmakers with a majority in the legislature are using the money generated by fees paid in the cap and trade program.

The bill was also opposed by the Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry group

Additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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