Calif. regulators OK major greenhouse gas rules

Dec 17, 2010 By JASON DEAREN , Associated Press
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger addresses the California Air Resources Board urging them to adopt some of the nation's most sweeping clean air regulations, in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010. The CRB was expected to pass a key piece of the state’s 2006 climate law, called AB32. If it passes, power plants, refineries and other major greenhouse gas emitters will have pollution capped by new regulations being considered by the regulatory agency. The new rules set up the nation's most extensive carbon trading market that officials hope will provide a financial incentive for the state's worst polluters to cut emissions.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(AP) -- Hoping other states will follow suit, California regulators overwhelmingly approved the nation's most extensive system giving owners of power plants, refineries and other major polluters financial incentives to emit fewer greenhouse gases.

The Air Resources Board voted 9-1 Thursday to pass the key piece of California's 2006 climate law - called AB32.

"We're inventing this," said Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the state's air quality board. "There is still going to be quite a bit of action needed before it becomes operational."

Officials said they hope that other states will follow the lead of the world's eighth largest economy. State officials also are discussing plans to link the new system with similar ones under way or being planned in Canada, Europe and Asia.

California is trying to "fill the vacuum created by the failure of Congress to pass any kind of climate or for many years now," said Nichols.

A standing-room only board chambers featured testimony from more than 170 witnesses Thursday. Outside the chambers, a few climate change skeptics held signs reading "Global Warming: Science by Homer Simpson."

Some businesses that would fall under the new rules say the system could dampen California's already flagging economy, complicate lawmakers' efforts to close a $28.1 billion revenue shortfall and lead to an increase in the price of electricity.

The rate increases, however, would still need approval from the state.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told the board he is sensitive to the recession, but argued that many of the new jobs being created under the system are in the clean technology industry.

"The real jobs we're creating right now are green jobs. Since 2006 or so green jobs have been created 10 times faster than in any other sector, so it's also an economic plus," he said.

But he said reducing is not just about climate change, but about human health and national security.

"I despise the fact that we send $1 billion a year to foreign places for our oil and to places that hate us. We send this money to people that hate us and that are organizing terrorists and trying to blow up our country," he said.

Supporters say the system will help spur economic recovery and innovation, pushing business to invest in clean technologies.

They say the billions of dollars the state collects in the system could help fund clean air programs and help offset any increases in utility rates. Details of the uses of these new funds is still uncertain.

California has already enacted the strictest climate-related regulations in the country involving renewable energy mandates for utilities, tighter fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles and low-carbon fuel standards.

The state's landmark climate law had a Jan. 1, 2011, deadline for devising and enacting the so-called cap-and-trade system.

Here's how it would broadly work:

A company that produces pollution, such as a utility or a refinery, buys a permit from the state that allows it to send a specified amount of carbon dioxide and other into the air each year.

Those permits could then be bought and sold by the in a marketplace.

If a company in Fresno is 15 percent under its pollution allowance, it can sell the unused portion to a company in Long Beach that has exceeded its quota. The Fresno company gets to keep the money.

Polluters can even make a profit, if the marketplace sets a price above the initial cost of the permit.

The lone dissenting board member, Dr. John Telles, said he had concerns that the new market created by the regulation was too vulnerable to cheating.

"We're potentially vulnerable here to be manipulated," he said. "And I don't see enough safeguards in the design of the market."

The board's staff said it would be working on market issues in the coming year before the launch of the program, but recognized that they were creating something that had not been tried before.

Adding another wrinkle, a company that exceeds its allowance can also buy what are called "offsets." These can be bought by companies with forestry or other projects that reduce greenhouse gases.

Those companies can sell those to polluters in the marketplace, also at a profit.

Under the new California rules, regulators would enforce limits on heat-trapping gas emissions beginning in 2012, eventually including 85 percent of the state's worst polluters.

The amount of allowed emissions would be reduced over time, and the regulations would expand in 2015 to include refineries and fuel distributors, such as oil companies.

The cap would reach its lowest level in 2020, when California wants its greenhouse gas emissions reduced to 1990 levels.

Ninety percent of the allowances would be free in the first years of the program to give industry time to upgrade to cleaner equipment or account for increased future costs as the cap tightens.

Over time, as the cap gets lower and fewer allowances are available, costs would rise.

"The idea is to incentivize over fossil fuels by putting a price on carbon," said Jon Costantino, a senior adviser at a Sacramento law firm who formerly served as the climate change planning manager at the Air Resources Board.

Business groups raised concerns that the board had not yet given hard details about what each facility's allowances would be.

"It's crucial for companies to know what their compliance requirements are going to be far in advance," said Dorothy Rothrock of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association.

"There are definitely going to be some costs incurred right up front for these companies," she said.

State officials say they had to act, because of years of delays in Washington. "The goal of (the law's) authors in 2006 was to lead by example, and being a leader you have to bring others along with you," Nichols said.

A bill to place a limit on the amount of greenhouse gases nationwide narrowly passed the U.S. House in 2009, died in the Senate because all Republicans and some Democrats from coal- and industry-heavy states balked about how it would raise electricity bills.

Obama, who made the climate bill the centerpiece of his Democratic agenda, pulled support for it after the midterm elections put Republicans in control of the House. The president said he would be looking at other ways to address climate change.

While the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed the first-ever rules to reduce greenhouse gases from large industrial polluters, the GOP, with some support from Democrats, vows in 2011 to block it from moving ahead with the regulations.

California's system, however, could end up being linked to ones being developed in other countries. State officials are talking with the European Union as well as provinces in China and Canada to link systems.

In the U.S., New Mexico narrowly approved its own cap-and-trade program last month and OK'd the state's participation in a regional market. There is another market in the works in the Midwest. Another program exists in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

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GSwift7
1.8 / 5 (15) Dec 17, 2010
This is good. Rather than launch into a huge national plan, at the possible expense of the whole country's economy, let California be the trial. We can all see where this takes them and what the effect is on the California economy before we force the rest of the country to do this.

Personally, I hope South Carolina gets some of those California jobs. We can use them to help us fund more nuclear plants and solar sites like the one we just built at Myrtle Beach (without cap and trade).

I also think it's hillarious if they think the "billions" they plan to collect are going to be used for energy research. lol. That's funny (actually it's not).
GSwift7
1.6 / 5 (14) Dec 17, 2010
Seriously, before we can try to do anything like this on a national level, there HAS to be some kind of regional or state level trial. They have to work out as many of the kinks as they can, like how to set limits for individual plants, and how much credit to give for offsets like growing trees. It's going to be a red tape nightmare for a few years at the least.

I still think there are better ways than cap and trade. I'd sure like to know who is invested in the CA carbon credit market. Somebody is planning to make a lot of money on this deal. Wanna bet the guy that voted against this isn't in on the party?
geokstr
1.7 / 5 (17) Dec 17, 2010
But they'd better get some results fast, because they'll soon be bankrupt, in no small way due to exactly this type of business-bashing, job-killing, lunatic legislation.
GSwift7
1.6 / 5 (14) Dec 17, 2010
But they'd better get some results fast, because they'll soon be bankrupt


lol, that's likely to be the result they'll get. It'll probably happen fast too.

When they say that power companies will have to increase rates, but that those rate increases must be approved by the State, what do they expect to happen? Is the State going to deny the rate increases? I guess if they want to shut down their power plants, then they can deny the rate increases. Those extra billions will have to come from somewhere, and if not through rate increases, then I can't imagine where else it'll come from.

The people who live there are in for a big surprise I think. Wouldn't it be interresting to see California become a Republican State?
geokstr
1 / 5 (11) Dec 17, 2010
Wouldn't it be interesting to see California become a Republican State?

Not gonna happen, especially once Reid forces the Orwellian named "Dream" act down the American public's throat, as his last gasp effort to buy his party tens of million of votes from the Undocumented Future Democratic Voters of America.

Then California will be majority Mexican. They'll write-in vote for the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) before they'll vote Republican.
Howhot
2.1 / 5 (7) Dec 17, 2010
@Gswift again;
Its amazing how clueless you are in regard to the issue of global warming. CA is doing it because they lead this nation in education, science, economy, and general hipness. I would rather be hip than clueless like where you were spawned.

So, regardless of the anti-gobal-warming position you gather from this article (which is just news that some people care btw); I still have to ask this question of you; how much are you getting paid to post this anti-global-warming stuff (it has to be by the word, because you are one of the wordiest AGW-deniers I've read). I'm not paid a thing; I'm just speaking for myself. I just want to expose who is paying you. You seem smart; would you like to wikileak on your overlord boss?

CA rocks!


mikiwud
1.5 / 5 (15) Dec 18, 2010
RIP
California
Dec 2011
Come and join the UK in Hell.
Atleast your pensioners will not die of cold in your climate because they cannot afford any heating.
In the UK they have to chose between Eating or Heating in the winter due to energy costs. Plus more jobs lost in industry.
Thorax
5 / 5 (2) Dec 18, 2010
Foolish Humans: Clearly you have not yet discovered that this feedlot you call "California" is really just a future food source for our kind. To put it in your language, a "grow op" of Eloi for our future harvest. So continue on devolving in your mentally and socially degenerating state. Our Insect kind will reap the crop when it is duly ripe.
Skeptic_Heretic
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 18, 2010
Not gonna happen, especially once Reid forces the Orwellian named "Dream" act down the American public's throat, as his last gasp effort to buy his party tens of million of votes from the Undocumented Future Democratic Voters of America.
How exactly is the Dream act Orwellian? I'm rather unread on the dream act and this is the first time I've heard any accusation of it being Orwellian.
geokstr
1 / 5 (11) Dec 18, 2010
I'm rather unread on the dream act and this is the first time I've heard any accusation of it being Orwellian.

First, being "unread on" on many things certainly hasn't stopped you from opining on them at length here, has it?

Here's a primer on what's wrong with this act, so you can get "read on" it:
http://cfif.org/v...ream-act

Second, try attending a Reading Comprehension 101 class. I said "Orwellian NAMED", in other words, it's the exact opposite of what it is called, you know, like "Freedom is Slavery" and "Ignorance is Truth".

It's amnesty for tens of millions of Undocumented Future Democratic Voters of America. The left understands full well that this is their last hope to retain any kind of relevancy, now that Obama has awoken the sleeping giant - this CENTER-RIGHT nation that took the first steps to booting out the left on Nov 2.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Dec 18, 2010
First, being "unread on" on many things certainly hasn't stopped you from opining on them at length here, has it?
I asked you a serious question based on your unique statement.
It's amnesty for tens of millions of Undocumented Future Democratic Voters of America.
You mean like the undocumented peoples who founded and expanded this country, built its railroads, tilled its land, pick our crops?

Seriously, what the hell is your issue?
now that Obama has awoken the sleeping giant - this CENTER-RIGHT nation that took the first steps to booting out the left on Nov 2.
Well first, the country isn't center-right, it's basically very center.

I think you need to cut back on the caffeine. I asked you a question, I didn't try to dissect your stance.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (7) Dec 18, 2010
howhot:

If that is the case (best education, best economy, etc,) how is it that California has an impossible to fix budget deficit because the government is held hostage to labor unions and entitlement programs, this in spite of the state hosting more millionairs, billionairs, and hundred billion dollar corporations than any other? Obviously they also get all the money from hollywood too, so why can't they pay their bills? Must be pretty dumb to not balance a budget with that kind of revenue available.

====

Oh yeah, since some companies in the region buy and sell water and power to and from other states, this makes this law unconstitutional, because the U.S. Congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce, NOT the state.

This will get shot down in the U.S. Supreme Court.
geokstr
1 / 5 (9) Dec 20, 2010
Well first, the country isn't center-right, it's basically very center.

http://www.gallup...als.aspx
Read it and weep. People who self-describe themselves as conservative to very conservative are 42% of the population, unchanged in decades. Liberal to very liberal only 20%, and moderates only 35%.

If you split the moderates 50-50, you get 59% as center-right vs 37% as center-left. But it is more logical that the moderates would really lean in proportion to the conservative-liberal ratio of 2:1, which is pretty much in line with opposition to Obama and the liberal agenda.

Now please explain how this is a "center" country, not a "center-right" one. Show your work.
geokstr
1 / 5 (9) Dec 20, 2010
You mean like the undocumented peoples who founded and expanded this country, built its railroads, tilled its land, pick our crops?

No, I mean like the tens of millions of uneducated, unemployed and criminal Mexicans and other hispanics who have literally and illegally invaded our southern border in the last couple decades. Who have no intention of assimilating into this country, to become Americans, like those who enter legally do.

The undocumented people who "founded" this country came here when there was no "country", no borders, no laws. Then, when they founded the country, they drew borders, and set up rules to enter legally and become citizens.

Do you really want to dissolve our borders, and let all of the billions who would love to come here, enter any way and any time they wish? The illegals are already a huge drain on the budgets of many states. Perhaps you could voluntarily contribute the entirety of your earnings and assets to help them out.
geokstr
1 / 5 (9) Dec 20, 2010
I asked you a serious question based on your unique statement.

And I answered your question:
I said "Orwellian NAMED", in other words, it's the exact opposite of what it is called, you know, like "Freedom is Slavery" and "Ignorance is Truth".

I guess you didn't find this satisfactory. Sorry.
GSwift7
1.3 / 5 (12) Dec 20, 2010
First, what does the Dream Act have to do with this? It got shot down and won't come to a vote anyway (because even Democrats were against it), so it's a moot point.

This cap and trade law isn't about the environment; it's about money.

They say the billions of dollars the state collects in the system could help fund clean air programs and help offset any increases in utility rates. Details of the uses of these new funds is still uncertain


Most of it will be spent funding existing State programs to get them out of debt.

Polluters can even make a profit


Those companies can sell those to polluters in the marketplace, also at a profit


Where does that money come from?

There are definitely going to be some costs incurred right up front for these companies


Over time, as the cap gets lower and fewer allowances are available, costs would rise


Again, who pays for this? Consumers, that's who. It's a huge consumption tax, that's all.
GSwift7
1.3 / 5 (12) Dec 20, 2010
@ howhot:

This is another typical response from you: Change the subject to an argument you think you can more easily win. Call me names and make baseless accuasations about my character. Make meaningless claims about a wide range of over-generalized subjects that only partially relate to the issue at hand, in order to confuse the issue.

lol, this is news that some people care? Yeah, the people with their hands in your pocket, taking your money. Oh, and by the way, I'm not FROM South Carolina. That was another incorrect assumption on your part. I've lived all over the country. This is just my latest stop, but I love it here.

@ Quantum Conundrum:

Shame on you. You fell for howhot's trolling and responded to his completely off-topic comments regarding his opinion about how great CA is. Don't get caught up in a silly argument about whether CA is a 'good state' or not. That is completely irrelevant.
Howhot
1.8 / 5 (4) Dec 21, 2010
@back at GSwift7:

Nothing wrong with S. Carolina. I lived there several years when I was young. Your-alls politics is Neanderthal but gentlemanly in approach.

The only reason to be a rabid dog on CA's environmental is that they effect you some how. I like being clean, responsible, and anti-global-warming. I support a clean environment at the expense of profit by a few.

Now that you know that; I've never been more been more stunned than how your types of opinions politicize what should be grade-school common knowledge facts; AGW is not made up to keep scientist employed. Seriously there is something wrong with Earth and we humans are the cause; and its from our burning of fossil fuels (billions of tons of CO2 released from burned palio-biomass in a few decades).
The panic is not from something imaginary. So; I salute CA for your strong actions against polluters and environmental criminals (and the uneducated too.)

Howhot
2 / 5 (3) Dec 21, 2010
Also @Quantum_Conundrum;

The political position of CA is not unlike many nations in todays economic turmoil. CA's downfall is a drag-on us all; just like when it's prosperous we as a nation prosper. What I like about CA is their environmental progress, and proactive laws and regulations. It's expensive and necessary; but LA smog doesn't exist any more; and that was nasty during my day. Just like trickle down economics, CA does kind of have trickle down environmental laws, now doesn't it.
Its fine with me, I hate polluters. I hope your not one.
Howhot
2 / 5 (3) Dec 21, 2010
Just a note on Cap-an-Trade; It is designed to make money, but with the purpose of monetizing CO2. There is not a better regulator of human actions than to somehow put a price on it. That is what CAP-N-TRADE does. Since general public can-not or will-not close a coal-burning electrical power-plant even at the peoples destruction; a method is needed to close it by good old capitalism; so CAP the CO2 levels and trade what you can produce. It's no more artificial than monetary exchange rates. Hopefully in a 50 year cycle coal plants are replaced by something cleaner. It's pretty cleaver IMHO.