California drops scheme to cut petroleum use by 50%

California Governor Jerry Brown has abandoned a plan to require the state’s petroleum use to drop by 50% over 15 years. The amended bill, known as SB350, would still include other provisions involving energy efficiency and use of renewable energy resources. The retreat happened amidst growing opposition to the scheme, which most vocally involved business groups and oil producers who warned of a economic slowdown. The decision was welcome news to Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association. “Today’s announcement was an acknowledgement that California’s energy future, economic competitiveness, and environment are inextricably linked,” she said. The group has estimated the petroleum industry employs roughly 500,000 people in California.

Others in the oil industry, who had campaigned aggressively against the move, seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. “This is huge — this means survival for the oil industry in California…This was the biggest legislative battle that we’ve been engaged in in my 17-year career with the association,” said Jay McKeeman, the vice president of government relations for the California Independent Oil Marketers Association.

Governor Brown has kept his resolve on other reforms, however. “I’m more determined than ever to make our regulatory regime work for the people of California – cleaning up the air, reducing the petroleum and creating green jobs.” While the bill would have offered incentives for electric and hybrid cars, the politicians concluded they didn’t have the votes necessary to mandate the 50 percent cut. One assembly member, Henry Perea, stated the move was a “compromise” that would make the passage of the remainder of the bill to succeed.

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