California Governor Eyes Emissions Standards In a speech Tuesday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his plans to expand greenhouse-gas-emissions standards for the state. He urged California to invest in what he called "a green economy." What would his changes mean for the state and the nation?
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California Governor Eyes Emissions Standards

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California Governor Eyes Emissions Standards

California Governor Eyes Emissions Standards

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This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.


And I'm Luke Burbank.

Last night, California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger gave his State Of The State Address. And he laid out an ambitious plan, one befitting a guy who used to be an action hero: universal health care, welfare reform, investment roads, bridges and infrastructure. But maybe the most ambitious thing was his call for a 10 percent reduction in auto emissions by 2010. He also asked Californians to invest in a green economy.

Governor ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (Republican, California): California leads the nation in biotechnology. We lead the nation in nanotechnology. We lead the nation in medical technology. We lead the nation in information technology, and we will soon be recognized as the leader in clean technology.

(Soundbite of applause)

BURBANK: Here to talk to us about the governor's plan is Alex Farrell, director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Welcome to the show.

Professor ALEX FARRELL (Director, Transportation Sustainability Research Center, University of California, Berkeley): Thank you, Luke.

BURBANK: The governor wants to cut emissions from greenhouse gases by 10 percent. I mean, it sounds like a great idea. Is it possible to actually do that?

Prof. FARRELL: I think it's a key to look at the language that the governor used in the press release. It's actually at least by 10 percent. And is that possible? I'm working on a study with some colleagues here at Berkeley and also at UC Davis. We're going to investigate that. I think we will find that there are cost-effective ways to cut emissions from the transportation fuels by at least 10 percent by 2020.

BURBANK: How exactly would you do that?

Prof. FARRELL: Well, there are two basic strategies. The first strategy is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are associated with the production of traditional fuels. The second one is to use different fuels that have low greenhouse gas impact.

BURBANK: What would be the financial implications be, you think, on the economy of California to do something like that?

Prof. FARRELL: Let's start at the consumer level. The effect on the consumer for the price of gasoline will be small. And it probably will help out the consumer for two reasons. The first reason is there's just more different types of supply and infrastructure. And that'll reduce the vulnerabilities to price spikes. By having more diverse supplies of energy, it will also tend to reduce the long-term price of gasoline. Second, what if we could go up to the whole state? If we are able to produce more of our transportation energy here in the state of California rather than importing it, then there are positive economic benefits.

BURBANK: Now, anyone who drives here in California can tell you that there's been a long-running attempt to try to cut emissions. This is not anything new. But the governor has brought up this thing he calls the cradle-to-grave approach to emissions. What does that mean, exactly?

Prof. FARRELL: Well, the governor is right on the money. This is the way to think about fuels. And the reason is that when you produce fuels, you have greenhouse gases, as well as the gases that come out of the tailpipe. And for some fuels, it's actually these emissions from production that are the most important.

And if you ignore those, you really are missing the picture. A good example, for instance, are biofuels, because the carbon dioxide that comes out the tailpipe actually is just being recycled from the air. The plants captured it. It's the emission that's associated with agriculture and the emissions associated with the processing of the biofuel itself in a bio refinery - that's where all the emissions are.

BURBANK: You know, I was surprised today, as I was reading up on this story, at how many other newspapers around the country are writing about this - local papers. It seems like people are taking note around the country. Could this be a template for other states?

Prof. FARRELL: I will tell you that when I have been talking with my friends who work in energy and environmental policy, and they tell them what the governor's proposal is - everyone's quite excited. To think that a lot of people are looking at this around the country, the European Union, and the various countries in Europe have been considering similar proposals - our work, as well as the studies that the state is doing and other folks in the next couple of years - we will develop that template. I am very optimistic about it.

BURBANK: Alex Farrell directs the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Mr. Farrell, thanks for talking to us.

Prof. FARRELL: My pleasure, Luke. Thank you.

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