CARB Green Lights Cap And Trade

Anthony Pignataro:

Last night, following an all-day hearing that involved 200 testifying witnesses, the California Air Resources Board voted nine to one to approve sweeping new Cap and Trade rules that have been two years — and 40 public workshops — in the making. It’s hard to describe the hype, the sheer majesty of their rhetoric, that oozes from CARB’s own press release, sent out after the vote.

“This program is the capstone of our climate policy, and will accelerate California’s progress toward a clean energy economy,” said CARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols in the release (why CARB insists on referring to Nichols, a woman, as a “chairman” is a mystery to me). “It rewards efficiency and provides companies with the greatest flexibility to find innovative solutions that drive green jobs, clean our environment, increase our energy security and ensure that California stands ready to compete in the booming global market for clean and renewable energy.”

Of course, according to this Capital Public Radio report by Ida Lieszkovsky, Nichols also said something else during the hearing, something a bit more humble that didn’t appear in the official CARB news statement: “We know that is a historic venture and we know that we will not have gotten everything right.”

Not gotten everything right.

Considering the time, expense and effort that went into these new regulations — which allows companies in California to buy “carbon credits” from the state or even other firms if they exceed new carbon dioxide emissions limits. The goal is that by 2020 greenhouse gas emissions will stand at roughly 1990 levels.

This is a serious new regulatory reality, based on a so-called “market approach” to pollution controls. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sees it as one of this greatest legacies, but environmental groups aren’t so sure — in fact, they see cap and trade as positive reinforcement for companies to create air pollution in the first place.

Well, what’s done is done. California firms, still shaky from the Great Recession, will now see how much of this Nichols and CARB actually “got right.”

DEC. 17, 2010

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