Extend it now – Orange County Register

After almost five years on opposite sides of a cap-and-trade lawsuit, the California Chamber of Commerce and Environmental Defense Fund don’t necessarily agree on much, but we do agree that there is a critical step that the state of California should take to secure the future environmental and economic well-being of the state — and ultimately the world.

Californians care about the environment and the air they breathe. That means acting on the climate and improving air quality is imperative. We also know we can maintain a strong economy with well-paid, middle-class jobs. The cap-and-trade program balances both of these priorities and ensures that we meet our environmental goals in the most cost-effective way.

The Golden State will generate half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and we have the most ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets in North America. At the same time, California is producing more wealth than any other state in the union. We have the sixth-largest economy in the world and added more jobs — 2.5 million — than any other state since the economic recovery started.

But our continued environmental and economic success is not guaranteed. Lawmakers in Sacramento are deciding right now whether to extend cap and trade, one of the state’s key programs to fight climate change, and Californians need their representatives to act. This program has a proven track record of being the least expensive approach to cutting carbon emissions — three to five times cheaper than the alternatives.

Not only is the program helping the state to cut carbon pollution, it’s also injecting billions of dollars into new and innovative clean energy and green technology projects that create good-paying jobs — a major economic stimulus to communities across the state.

In a nutshell, cap and trade sets a limit on pollutants that drive climate change. Economic motivation and interest in environmental protection converge, and a state can…

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