As the California Air Resources Board prepares for the state’s first carbon emissions rights auction this summer, it’s awarded two contracts to companies to run the auction. Under the first award, Markit North America, a New York-based financial information services company, would run the auction expected to take place in August. Under the second award, Deutsche Bank would provide financial services related to the auction. The contracts “have been officially awarded,” said Sue Bayoneta, Air Board contract manager. “The contracts are being prepared.” When they are executed, they may be in place on only an interim basis. That’s because under an agreement between California and two Canadian provinces, control of the carbon auction process is expected to shift from the Air Board to the new entity Western Climate Initiative, Inc., according to Lee Alter, Initiative assistant project manager. WCI, Inc.--a non-profit modeled after the Northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Inc.--may assume control of the contracts too, he explained. Eventually, it may even have enough staff to operate future auctions itself, or may use contractors under its control, he said. WCI, Inc. is being funded by California and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and British Columbia. Quebec recently adopted its own carbon cap-and-trade program which is to be harmonized with California’s with a unified auction under WCI, Inc. British Columbia is expected to join in the unified carbon trading market once it works out the details of its own program (Current, Jan. 20, 2012). Meanwhile, as WCI Inc. staffs up, according to Alter, the old Western Climate Initiative--a government forum for developing greenhouse gas policy initiatives--continues to exist. It will continue to coordinate greenhouse gas policies among its members, which include Western states like California and Canadian provinces. * * * * * To spur faster approval of renewable energy projects and other developments that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, Gov. Jerry Brown announced a series of proposals to streamline environmental reviews under the California Environmental Quality Act. “These reforms will fast-track key projects that put Californians to work,” Brown stated Jan. 25. “Like California, CEQA must be more nimble.” The changes are aimed at implementing SB 226, which seeks to ease the way for infill development projects associated with smart growth, plus make it easier to locate solar energy systems on rooftops and in parking lots. Under AB 900, the measures also aim to streamline reviews for large renewable energy systems and other projects that can help achieve environmental goals. The governor’s Office of Planning & Research--which develops guidelines for environmental reviews--is seeking comments on the changes. Once finalized, according to Brown, the revisions are expected to simplify the approval process for projects by eliminating repetitive studies of environmental effects already addressed in other planning documents, such as, general plans and zoning codes.