Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown, center, listens Wednesday to Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, left, and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins as they announce they will abandon efforts this year to require a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in motor vehicles by 2030.

Capitol Alert
By David Siders
September 10, 2015

  • Governor says controversy gets more coverage for climate change
  • Brown also credits loss with increasing his ‘zeal’
  • Dropping petroleum reduction mandate a major win for oil companies

Gov. Jerry Brown gets his way with the California Legislature so often that his defeat on major climate and transportation initiatives this week put him in an unusual defensive spot.

The fourth-term Democrat rests his reputation on greenhouse gas reduction policies, and he called lawmakers into a special session to address the state’s dilapidated roads.

So when Brown capitulated Wednesday, he promoted a more favorable interpretation of his setback.

On climate, the line was this: Brown and legislative leaders were forced to abandon a measure to curtail gasoline consumption because they would have had to agree to curtail the administration’s regulatory powers to get it passed.

Oil companies had flooded moderate Democrats in the Assembly with advertising, objecting to the authority that Assembly Bill 350 would have given the California Air Resources Board to implement a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use.

Brown said he and the ARB could do more good without a deal.

“California is not going to miss a beat,” Brown said. “Be very clear about that. We don’t have a declaration in statute, but we have absolutely the same authority. We’re going forward. The only thing different is my zeal has been intensified to a maximum degree.”

Notwithstanding that Brown has appeared most times this year to possess a “zeal intensified to a maximum degree” (his remarks about human extinction and ecological collapse reflected intensity), the suggestion here was the power of Popeye.

A beat-down from Big Oil? For Brown, the equivalent of eating spinach.

To read expanded column, click here.