Gov. Jerry Brown pushes to extend cap-and-trade program with new budget proposal

By Chris Megerian, The Los Angeles Times.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Tuesday his plan to prod lawmakers to solidify California's emissions cap-and-trade program, the centerpiece of the state's climate change agenda. 

Pushing forward in California has only become more important with federal action on global warming less likely under President-elect Donald Trump's incoming administration, the governor said. 

"Given the fact that the federal government is going in the opposite direction, I would think that Californians wants to strengthen their own commitment," he said during a Capitol news conference where he unveiled his budget plans. "We ought to continue and not fall back on our efforts." 

Cap-and-trade works by requiring companies to purchase permits in order to emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, creating a financial incentive to reduce pollution. The program is currently mired in a legal battle over whether it's an unconstitutional tax, and a court date is scheduled for later this month. 

Brown wants to eliminate the uncertainty stemming from  the lawsuit and other legal questions  about whether the program can continue past 2020. His plan requires a two-thirds vote in both houses of the Legislature, the legal standard for approving taxes.