US & Canada

California drops plan for 50% cut in petroleum use

The current price of gasoline is shown on a gas station sign in Encinitas, California on 4 August 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption California's climate change policy was initially instigated by ex-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

California has dropped plans to halve petroleum use in vehicles by 2030, after intense oil industry lobbying.

Governor Jerry Brown and other senior lawmakers had included the proposal in a climate change bill, but were forced to retreat amid growing opposition.

State senate leader Kevin de Leon, who supported the cut, accused oil firms of deploying "scare tactics".

The leaders have vowed to push ahead with other reforms, including boosting renewable electricity use.

"I'd say oil has won the skirmish, but they've lost the bigger battle," Mr Brown said.

"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."

The plans to require a 50% reduction in petroleum use in motor vehicles by 2030 were met with fierce opposition from business groups and oil companies, who warned of negative consequences for California's economy.

Mr De Leon said the industry had a "singular motive" and accused it of creating a "multibillion-dollar smoke screen" to deter lawmakers from voting for the legislation.

Republicans, along with many moderate Democrats, had resisted the proposal.

Image copyright AP
Image caption California Governor Jerry Brown discussed the issue of climate change with the Pope in July

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, welcomed Wednesday's decision to cut the emissions target from the bill.

"Today's announcement was an acknowledgement that California's energy future, economic competitiveness, and environment are inextricably linked," she added.

California is the second-biggest producer of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels among US states.

Mr Brown pledged to move ahead with the two remaining components of the climate change bill, aimed at increasing renewable electricity use and improving energy efficiency in buildings.

The issue has been a key priority for the governor during his final term.

He is expected to attend the United Nations climate change conference in Paris in November.

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