Calif. Unveils Plan to Cut Greenhouse Gases California's Air Resources board has announced a draft plan to radically cut greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with a 2006 state law to combat global warming. The plan could cost industry millions. Tamara Keith reports from member station KQED.
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Calif. Unveils Plan to Cut Greenhouse Gases

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Calif. Unveils Plan to Cut Greenhouse Gases

Calif. Unveils Plan to Cut Greenhouse Gases

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

California continues to push ahead with its ambitious plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions, that despite federal resistance on the issue. Back in 2006, the state passed a groundbreaking law called The Climate Change Solutions Act. It mandated that the state cut emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020.

Well today, California air regulators released a draft roadmap of how they plan to do just that.

Tamara Keith of member station KQED reports.

TAMARA KEITH: Most of the reductions, 80 percent, will come through regulations and policies aimed at increasing the efficiency of everything from appliances to cars, houses, and factories. Here's how UC-Davis professor and Air Resources Board member Dan Sperling describes it.

Professor DAN SPERLING (Civil Engineering, U.C. Davis; Board Member, California Air Resources): We're going to make the vehicles more efficient, make the air conditioners better. We're going to, you know, have more efficient appliances, more efficient buildings. We're basically just talking about doing things a little better.

KEITH: Large gains are expected from a limit on tailpipe emissions from cars. It's already in state law but, so far, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has prevented California from enforcing the rule. The plan also calls for utilities to get a third of their electricity from renewable sources. A bill mandating that is working its way through the legislature, but is by no means guaranteed to pass.

Still, this blueprint is a critical first step, says Audrey Chang of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Ms. AUDREY CHANG (Staff Scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council): This is a great start for California and it's more important than ever before for California to be really moving full speed ahead on global warming, and we really can't afford to wait for solutions to be coming from Washington.

KEITH: The remainder of emissions reductions, about 20 percent, will come through what's known as a cap and trade system. Emissions reductions achieved by one company could be sold to another one to meet their cap. Over the coming years, California will work with other western states and three Canadian provinces to develop this cap and trade system. It could become the nation's most broad-based carbon trading system. This aspect of the plan pleases the business community.

Shelly Sullivan represents a coalition of California companies.

Ms. SHELLY SULLIVAN (Executive Director, AB-32 Implementation Group): The board has recognized the importance of a market system and a cap-and-trade system that will ultimately reduce costs for California consumers. We're also very encouraged by the fact that the board wants to link to other regional and potential federal and ultimately global programs.

KEITH: There are concerns about how much this carbon policy will cost the state. Mary Nichols is chairman of the Air Resources Board - in charge of implementing California's Climate Change Prevention Act. She says California's green economy will bloom, outweighing other costs.

Ms. MARY NICHOLS (Chairman, California Air Resources Board): At this point, what we're talking about is people investing in our economy and creating new jobs. I think there is a fear factor about change. But look at what we're talking about in this plan, everything that's in the plan is in the nature of making our economy more sustainable, more efficient.

KEITH: And perhaps more important than the emissions reductions themselves is the example California could set, says Jim Bushnell with the University of California Energy Institute.

Mr. JIM BUSHNELL (Research Director, University of California Energy Institute): What we need is for this to be mirrored and copied by a whole lot of other places.

KEITH: The California Air Resources Board will continue refining the plan throughout the summer. State law requires that it be completed by the end of the year.

For NPR News, I'm Tamara Keith in Sacramento.

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