Farm and business groups are pushing back on a proposal to modify California’s cap-and-trade program. The budget agreed to by both houses of the Legislature on Thursday would charge the Air Resources Board (CARB) with reopening rulemaking on the program.

The action is in response to a steep, but anticipated, decline this year in revenues from the market. Several lawmakers and policy advocates have argued the program was intended to lower pollution, not raise money.

“We believe that the proposal will raise costs on Californians and compliance costs on industry at a time when financial and economic certainty is very much needed,” said Robert Spiegel, a policy advocate for the California Farm Bureau, during a budget hearing Thursday.

Manufacturing associations, utility companies and the California Chamber of Commerce also opposed the measure, while Sierra Club California and the California Environmental Justice Alliance were in support. 

"Cap-and-trade has worked well with California's other climate programs to meet our 2020 goals four years early," said Margo Parks, a policy advocate for the Western States Petroleum Association. "Not to mention, CARB already has the authority to do the type of rulemaking that's outlined in the proposal."

Asm. Jim Cooper of Elk Grove also objected to granting CARB additional authority. The Legislature went through “extensive negotiations” in 2017 to extend the program, he pointed out. Cooper and others criticized lawmakers for discretely inserting the measure into the large budget proposal over Memorial Day weekend without a committee hearing.

The proposal originated from the Senate version of the budget. According to the Agricultural Council, Sen. Bob Wieckowski of Fremont has proposed the measure in the past.