Jerry Brown goes dictator on climate change

With a stroke of his pen, Governor Jerry Brown (D) issued an executive order to extend California’s onerous climate change regulations, but the independent legislative counsel found he exceeded his authority.

Like Obama, Brown also uses his pen to push his agenda when the legislature does not act.  A group of moderate Democrats has joined with Republicans and business groups to thwart tougher climate change legislation.  In response, Brown issued an executive order last year.  The News Release announcing the order states:

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an executive order to establish a California greenhouse gas reduction target of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 - the most aggressive benchmark enacted by any government in North America to reduce dangerous carbon emissions over the next decade and a half.

Note that Brown “enacted” the benchmark, which somehow leaves out any action by the legislature.

According to an AP story in the Washington Times:

The top lawyer for the California Legislature says Gov. Jerry Brown exceeded his authority when he issued an executive order imposing what he called the most aggressive carbon-emission reductions in North America, aligning California with the European Union’s aggressive climate change standards.

The opinion by Legislative Counsel Diane Boyer-Vine does not curtail Brown’s authority to continue implementing the greenhouse gas reduction plan, but it suggests a lawsuit challenging them could be successful.

Brown’s executive order cites the emergency powers of the governor under Government Code 8567 and 8571 as the authority to extend the climate regulations.  These powers are designed to respond to immediate threats such as floods, earthquakes or fires.  The governor, however, takes an expansive view of his authority, which, if not challenged, could be used for almost any purpose.

The executive order stands at this time, but someone with staying power could challenge it in court to put the brakes on Brown’s expansive executive authority.

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