As the California Public Utilities Commission confronts a legislative mandate to direct that 85 percent of the money utilities gain in auctioning off freely granted carbon emissions rights be returned to ratepayers as bill credit, regulators are grappling with whether to weight that credit toward businesses in \u201cenergy intensive, trade exposed\u201d industry sectors. The state budget for fiscal 2012-13 specifies that \u201cemissions-intensive trade-exposed retail customers of the electrical corporations\u201d get some of the money. Not surprisingly, industries that fit into that category, such as industrial gas producers and farmers, have been busy lobbying the CPUC to assure their cut of the pie. For instance, Bill Booth, counsel to the California Large Energy Consumers Association, last month urged an aide to CPUC president Mike Peevey to allow industrial gas producers to \u201cparticipate fully\u201d in the auction proceeds. Karen Mills, California Farm Bureau associate counsel, and Ed Yates, California League of Food Processors president emeritus, made a similar appeal to Peevey\u2019s office. They pointed out that farm product prices are set on the world market, not here in California, leaving farmers potentially unable to recover the added costs of energy under state global warming policies. They too seek a part of the money. * * * * * The California Air Resources Board plans several research projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases over the coming 2012-13 fiscal year, including some aimed to advance electric transportation. Acting June 28, the Air Board approved $400,000 to research what\u2019s involved in transitioning California\u2019s rail system to \u201czero or near-zero\u201d emissions, plus another $650,000 to study the travel and charging behavior of plug-in hybrid electric car owners. The aim is to produce information useful for grid management and charging infrastructure development. * * * * * Solve one environmental problem, create another. It seems the state\u2019s quest to control greenhouse gases by building large solar power projects in the Southern California desert may be causing a bit of a dust up. In a complaint to the California Energy Commission made public July 2, Basin & Range Watch submitted photos of dust obscuring views at Joshua Tree National Park allegedly caused by grading land for NextEra\u2019s 4,400 acre Desert Sunlight Project. Grading has disturbed vegetation on the surface, leaving bare soil that\u2019s entrained into the air whenever the wind blows moderately, according to the complaint. The only solution, the group continues, may be to keep the dry, dusty land wet this summer as temperatures routinely reach 120 degrees or to limit construction activity. * * * * * The California Air Resources Board told the California Energy Commission in comments posted July 3 that its cap-and-trade program does not constitute an emissions limit on municipal power utilities in California. The comments came in the context of the Energy Commission\u2019s review of rules to implement SB 1368, which seeks to phase out reliance of out-of-state coal power plants by the state\u2019s munis to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Munis contend the Air Board\u2019s cap-and-trade program makes the coal phase-out rules moot since they have to cut emissions under the market-based program anyway. They want the Energy Commission to simply rescind the rules (Current, May 18, 2012). SB 1368 directs the Energy Commission to review the need for and applicability of the rules should any new emissions standard take effect for munis. However, Air Board climate change program evaluation branch chief Steven Cliff told the Energy Commission in his June 28 e-mail that \u201cthe cap-and-trade program does not create an emissions limit applicable to local publicly owned electric utilities\u201d and therefore there\u2019s no need to review the SB 1368 standards.