Photo by Vince Taroc.

Photo by Vince Taroc.

California's Legislature has voted to extend the state's cap-and-trade program through 2030, which could result in an increase to the gasoline tax and would codify the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) into law.

Legislators approved the signature legislation from Gov. Jerry Brown, who hopes to roll back greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. AB 398 received the neccessary two-thirds in each house. The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), while companion bill AB 617 was sponsored by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens).

Under the state's current system, emissions are capped and pulluers must obtain permits for the greenhouse gases they emit. Companies can trade for more capacity on the private market or at a state-run auction.

The passage of the bill was greeted enthusiastically by groups representing alternative fuels, including the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas.

"In addition to extending cap-and-trade, state law will now also recognize low-carbon transportation alternatives for purposes of allocating future Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds (GGRF) from related auction revenues — funds that are needed to realize increased in-state development, deployment and utilization of RNG." said Nina Kapoor, the coalition's manager of legislative and regulatory affairs.

The Low Carbon Transportation Fund hasn't provided money for in-state biofuels production and cap-and-trade-related Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) in the past, and hasn't focused enough attention on reducing air contaminants and Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCP) other than methane from the dairy sector, accordiong to the coalition.

The codification of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard provides "additional market certainty that the industry needs to continue developing RNG for transportation fuel use both in California and across the country," said Johannes Escudero, the coalition's CEO.