CLIMATE CHANGE ROUNDUP: CARB Outlines Carbon Offsets

By Published On: August 6, 2010

The California Air Resources Board stated late last week how it intends to include emission offset projects in its upcoming carbon cap-and-trade program. The Air Board July 29 said it plans to allow the power industry and other companies under the program to meet greenhouse gas reduction requirements with offsets from a wide variety of projects. The Air Board said it may issue emission offsets itself for projects carried out under agency-approved standards. In addition, the Air Board is eyeing allowing offset credits certified under other programs it approves, such as forestry projects in developing countries and projects under the auspices of the Climate Action Reserve. Projects certified by other states in the Western Climate Initiative could qualify too, according to the Air Board. The initiative is a group of states and Canadian provinces that are seeking to establish a unified carbon market. The Air Board plans to finalize rules for a carbon cap-and-trade program this fall for its board to adopt before the end of the year. Cap-and-trade is considered integral to carrying out the state’s climate change law, AB 32, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions from today’s level 15 percent by the 2020. Offset projects entail planting trees to sequester carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere or reducing emissions from facilities or equipment not regulated under the cap-and-trade program. These strategies are in lieu of cutting greenhouse gas emissions at facilities covered by the program. Regulators believe that offset projects often can achieve greenhouse gas reductions more economically than cutting emissions at regulated plants. * * * * * A state court ordered the Secretary of State to change the ballot title of Proposition 23 August 3 in response to a lawsuit the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed late last week against California Attorney General Jerry Brown. The association contested the ballot title he issued for Proposition 23, claiming it was “misleading.” Under a Sacramento Superior Court order, the Secretary of State is to clarify that the measure suspends AB 32, the state’s climate change law, not other laws as well. Language is also to be changed to say the measure applies to “major sources of emissions” instead of “major polluters.” Finally, the judge required a more detailed description of the measure under the title to clarify that it “suspends” work on AB 32, rather than requiring the state to “abandon” the effort. Brown “intended to sway voters,” charged Jon Coupal, president of the association, which is backing the measure. It would suspend AB 32 until state unemployment falls to 5.5 percent. Today, unemployment is more than 12 percent. Brown labeled the measure: “Proposition 23--Suspends Air Pollution Control Laws Requiring Major Polluters to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions That Cause Global Warming Until Unemployment Drops Below Specified Level for Full Year.” Coupal pointed out the measure seeks to suspend just one law, AB 32, not other air pollution laws. He further claimed that calling those that would be regulated under the law “major polluters” was a distortion since small organizations and private residents would be regulated. In a statement, American Lung Association of California president Jane Warner sniped back, “Proposition 23 is a deceptive proposition bankrolled by Texas oil companies.” Before the court order is final, the title revisions must be publicly posted for 20 days. In a separate development noted in press reports this week, California Democratic legislative leaders asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the propriety of a half million dollar contribution to the Yes on Proposition 23 campaign by the Missouri-based Adam Smith Foundation, a free market advocacy organization (Current, May 7, 2010) * * * * * InnoSense, a Torrance-based company, won a U.S. Department of Energy award August 2 for its plan to turn sequestered carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuel into methanol, a transportation fuel. The award was one of 201 DOE grants totaling $188 million to small businesses throughout the nation. Nineteen California businesses won awards, which DOE disburses under its Small Business Innovation Research program. The aim is to develop new technologies in 76 areas, including the smart grid, energy efficient buildings, advanced renewable energy, cleaner fossil fuel power, industrial energy use, carbon cycle measurement, and high performance computing. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lauded the California companies winning the awards.

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