California Tightens Rules on Emissions

A haze settles over Los Angeles as traffic flows into the city. California is the world's 12th-largest emitter of carbon dioxide pollution; its levels are similar to Australia's. A poll in July showed that two-thirds of Californians wanted the state to address the issue.

The Washington Post reports that California’s legislature approved the broadest restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions in the nation yesterday.  The California bill requires a 25 percent cut in carbon dioxide pollution produced within the state’s borders by 2020 in order to bring the total down to 1990 levels.  It will set up a cap-and-trade program that will allow businesses to buy, sell, and trade emission credits with other companies.

"This is a bill that is really rolling down the tracks," said PG&E’s vice president for government relations, Nancy E. McFadden, shortly before the state Senate vote Wednesday. "We made the judgment that we’re going to be constructive and make it a bill that would protect both the environment and the economy."

Some California companies broke with industry leaders, concluding that mandatory greenhouse gas reductions are smart politics and will be good for business. Pacific Gas and Electric chief executive Peter A. Darbee, whose company serves 15 million customers and ranks as California’s largest utility, issued a statement last night saying, "We’re supporting this legislation because we are convinced that climate change is an urgent problem and action is needed now."

Corporate opponents in California have not given up their fight, saying the legislation could cripple their industries and raise electricity prices. Jack Stewart, president of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, said industry is already taking steps to improve energy efficiency, and mandates will only increase the cost of doing business.

Click here to read the entire article in the Washington Post