The California Air Resources Board (CARB) on Thursday released its long-awaited proposed greenhouse gas cap-and-trade regulation.
The regulation has been in development for four years, and the release begins a public comment period culminating in a December 16 public hearing in Sacramento, California, at which the Board will consider adopting the proposed program.
However, implementation of the regulation depends in large part on what California voters do today at the ballot box. If Proposition 23 passes, it will put California's landmark climate bill (AB 32) and the cap-and-trade program on hold until the state unemployment rate drops to 5.5%. And Proposition 26, if passed, would eliminate funding for AB 32.
The cap-and-trade program is a key part of CARB's Scoping Plan under AB 32. It
provides an overall limit on the emissions from sources responsible for
85% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions. CARB said the program allows
covered entities the greatest flexibility for compliance, stimulates
clean energy technologies, increases energy security and independence,
protects public health and will drive clean, clean energy jobs in California.
It is designed to work in collaboration with other complementary
policies that expand energy efficiency programs, reduce vehicle
emissions, and encourage innovation.
“This program is a crucial element of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. It will help drive innovation, create more green jobs and clean up our air and environment” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “We have worked closely with all interested parties and stakeholders to make sure that the program provides flexibility to reach our emissions reduction goals while taking into consideration the current economic climate and the need to fully protect California’s economy.”
California and New Mexico are currently the only states on track to begin cap and trade in 2012 under the Western Climate Initiative. Republican governors in Arizona and Utah have withdrawn their states from participation in the regional cap-and-trade initiative, and there is considerable risk that gubernatorial elections taking place today could further weaken the WCI.
A brief overview of the cap-and-trade program is available from CARB at the link below.