(LA TIMES) Chris Megerian — Gov. Jerry Brown, in the midst of a tense political battle over climate change legislation, sharply criticized oil companies on Monday for selling a “highly destructive” product.
“The oil industry is in deep trouble,” he told reporters on Monday during a press conference on the shores of Lake Tahoe. “They have a product that is highly destructive, while highly valuable at the same time. And we’re trying to work out the right policies.”
Brown, who was visiting the lake for an environmental summit, has proposed cutting California’s consumption of gasoline in half by 2030. Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) is pushing a measure to achieve that goal and enact other steps intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The bill, SB 350, passed in the state Senate but is facing a tougher road in the Assembly, where business-friendly Democrats hold more sway.
Oil companies have ramped up their opposition, saying the legislation would lead to gasoline rationing, a contention that supporters reject. Brown said the industry is “making up things,” adding that more efficient vehicles, more mass transit and better city planning would help reach his target.
“I have no intention of backing down,” the governor said. “We’re going to intensify our efforts to do lower-carbon fuels and lower-carbon pollution, now and into the future.”
Brown said he would be working with lawmakers to pass the bill before the legislative session ends on Sept. 11. De León and his allies have also been rallying support, and nine former legislative leaders issued statements in support on Monday.
Brown also defended a state program that has allowed hundreds of Californians with household incomes of at least $500,000 to collect taxpayer subsidies for buying electric and hybrid cars.
“My goal is to deal with climate change, which is an existential threat,” he said. The subsidy program is one of the tools to get more clean vehicles on the road, Brown added, “so I think the consequences that were pointed out by your newspaper were not significant.”