California praised for approving climate law plan to cut pollution

August 24, 2011
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(Sacramento, CA – August 24, 2011) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) praised California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) for approving a blueprint today for reducing climate change pollution that complements new state and federal actions designed to improve air quality. California’s plan will work alongside other public health rules, including more stringent ozone and air toxics standards.

CARB originally approved its Climate Change Scoping Plan [PDF] in December 2008 as a key part of the implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), which EDF cosponsored. The plan includes a cap-and-trade rule as one of 70 measures to reduce pollution and grow California’s burgeoning clean energy economy. The initial outcome of a lawsuit filed in 2009, however, required CARB to set aside the approval and complete a more thorough review of the plan’s alternatives to cap-and-trade. Today’s vote approved the scoping plan based on new analysis required by the court.

“Today’s vote reinforces California’s world-renowned environmental leadership by cutting serious air pollution in the state and protecting public health. The plan’s cap-and-trade rule puts a firm limit on pollution from the largest sources in the state and doesn’t let any polluter off the hook,” said Tim O’Connor, director of EDF’s California Climate and Energy Initiative, who testified at the public meeting before the CARB vote. “However, it still has to be managed in real-time to track and respond to any unforeseen impacts.”

EDF and numerous public health and environmental groups reviewed the updated analysis--including the American Lung Association in California, Breathe California, and Union of Concerned Scientists--and agree that it features the best available tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many of these groups are working at the national level to get tighter ground level ozone standards, updated emissions performance standards for common pollutants, and more stringent toxic air contaminant regulations put in place.

“This is a vote of confidence in California’s plan to create jobs and clear the air. It will bolster the critical effort to achieve stronger and more effective pollution control laws nationwide.” O’Connor said. “CARB’s vote also reaffirms the value and importance of cap-and-trade: it is the most effective way to cut pollution quickly at the lowest cost, while driving investments and job growth in clean technology.”

Cap-and-trade is a vital component of the state’s clean energy plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as set by AB 32. The program creates a firm limit on pollution that will ultimately cover 80 percent of the state’s emissions, including those from the utility, large industry, natural gas and transportation fuels sectors. The program is proposed to begin on January 1, 2013.

The final regulations will be available at: http://www.arb.ca.gov/regact/2010/capandtrade10/capandtrade10.htm

Editor’s Note: for easy-to-understand language on cap-and-trade, and for videos and a graphic, please visit our climate resource archives.