Politics & Government

Climate change law's $63 million fee delayed by California

The state, facing a ballot initiative to roll back its landmark climate change law, has pushed back a $63 million fee to pay for the legislation until after the November elections.

The California Air Resources Board was supposed to begin collecting fees from oil companies, utilities and other energy producers last year to pay for the greenhouse gas reduction law.

But a lawsuit by business organizations and taxpayer advocates — combined with the ongoing state budget crisis — has pushed back the implementation date to November.

"We're disappointed with the delay," said Bonnie Holmes-Gen, senior policy director for the American Lung Association of California. "We need to start the policy of having polluters pay to enact this critical program."

Signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, California's climate change law, or AB 32, aims to reduce carbon emissions statewide by 15 percent by 2020.

Enforcement of the law — which includes additional staffing — will be paid for by fees assessed to oil companies, power companies and other big carbon emitters.

The fee delay comes as the fate of the entire law will be put before voters this fall.

Proposition 23 seeks to suspend the law until the statewide unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.

The suspension also would put a hold on the fees.

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