Climate Roundup: Carbon Auction Shows Level Prices

By Published On: February 28, 2014

California companies bought 19.5 million 2014 carbon emissions allowances for $11.48/ton in the California Air Resources Board’s Feb. 19 cap-and-trade program auction. They bought almost 9.3 million 2017 allowances too for $11.38/ton. The price for 2014 allowances was 14 cents/ton above CARB’s minimum bid price. For 2017 allowances it was 4 cents/ton higher than the minimum bid price. Each allowance confers the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide or CO2 equivalent. The Air Board announced the results Feb. 24. * * * * * California’s greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuel fell to 3.9 percent below their 1990 level, according to the Energy Information Agency. In a tally of state emissions in 2011 released Feb. 26, EIA found that California’s emissions totaled 346 million tons in 2011, down from 360 in 2010. Emissions in 1990 totaled the same as in 2010, or 360 million tons. The state’s goal under AB 32, the climate protection law, is to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. * * * * * The U.S. Supreme Court Feb. 25 heard oral arguments in a case in which the Utility Air Regulatory Group is challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s effort to set greenhouse gas emissions standards for power plants. While the group does not contest the agency’s legal authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, it maintains it can’t do so under the law’s prevention of significant deterioration provisions. The group argues those provisions are designed to target pollutants that deteriorate the health or purity of air immediately around stationary facilities. The group told the court that carbon dioxide, while it affects the global atmosphere, does not have such a localized effect. The organization further warned that using the provisions to regulate greenhouse gases eventually will mean limits on untold thousands of small stationary sources of greenhouse gases around the nation. EPA responded that its plan to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act’s provisions is in line with how it’s handled other ubiquitous pollutants—like nitrogen and sulfur oxides—since 1978. Once such emissions are defined as “criteria pollutants” under the law, EPA said it has used the provisions to require new stationary facilities to install best available control technology to limit the emissions. A decision in the case—Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, Nos. 12-1146, 12-1248, 12-1254, 12-1268, 12-1269 and 12-1272—is expected later this year.

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