California legislative leaders and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger reached agreement on a compromise version of an assembly bill (AB 32—the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) that is intended to bring statewide emissions of greenhouse gases back down to 1990 levels by 2020—an estimated cut of 25%.
The California Senate approved the measure on Wednesday; it now is in the Assembly, where final approval is expected.
The bill, which would make California the first state in the country to legislate a cap on greenhouse gas emissions, requires the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to:
Adopt a statewide greenhouse gas emissions limit equivalent to the statewide greenhouse gas emissions levels in 1990 to be achieved by 2020.
Adopt regulations on or before 1 January 2008 to require the reporting and verification of statewide greenhouse gas emissions.
Adopt a schedule of fees to be paid by the sources of greenhouse gas emissions to cover the actual cost of the monitoring and reporting program regulations.
Adopt rules and regulations in an open public process to achieve the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Adopt market-based compliance mechanisms meeting specified requirements. The bill would require the state board to monitor compliance with and enforce any rule, regulation, order, emission limitation, emissions reduction measure, or market-based compliance mechanism adopted by the state board, pursuant to specified provisions of existing law.
Adopt a schedule of fees to be paid by regulated sources of greenhouse gas emissions, as specified. Because the bill would require the state board to establish emissions limits and other requirements, the violation of which would be a crime, this bill would create a state-mandated local program.
The greenhouse gases covered by AB 32 are: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexaflouride. The bill does not address vehicles as a source. California had already passed a bill limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases from new vehicles—a bill currently under challenge by the auto industry in Federal court.
The basic implementation timeline is as follows:
On or before 30 June 2007, ARB will publish a list of discrete early action greenhouse gas emission reduction measures that can be implemented prior to the measures of AB 32.
On or before 1 January 2008, ARB will require the reporting and verification of statewide greenhouse gas emissions.
On or before 1 January 2009, ARB shall prepare and approve a scoping plan for achieving the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
On or before 1 January 2010, ARB shall adopt the greenhouse gas regulations and measures.
On or before 1 January 2011, ARB shall adopt greenhouse gas emission limits and emission reduction measures by regulation to achieve the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
On 1 January 2012, the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limit goes into effect.
The state is the 12th largest carbon emitter in the world despite leading the nation in energy efficiency standards and its lead role in protecting its environment. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an issue we must show leadership on.—Governor Schwarzenegger
Last month, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a climate change pact with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. (Earlier post.)