In old days before satellite geo-positioning systems became the vogue, I used a radio direction finder to triangulate our position when sailing in offshore races and on coastal cruises. I turned the receiver dial to hone in on the compass direction of signals beamed from onshore towers and used a straightedge to see where the lines crossed on a chart. In public policy, agencies and politicians use a similar method to determine their positions. For instance, Bill Clinton brought \u201ctriangulation\u201d to an art when he was President. Wikipedia defines political triangulation as presenting your \u201cideology as being above and between the left and right sides of the political spectrum.\u201d This month, California witnessed triangulation in attempts to regulate reductions in the energy industry\u2019s greenhouse gases. And that triangulated position may speak volumes about what to expect from the California Air Resources Board as it unveils its draft plan to carry out the state\u2019s climate change law, AB 32, this summer. To understand the position of the Air Board---headed by former Clinton administration official Mary Nichols--first check the signals from the beacons onshore. On the left shore, environmental justice advocates and publicly owned utilities, recline on beach blankets. They\u2019re happy with greenhouse gas caps and regulation. The folks on this beach think in the long run, caps are cheaper and more effective than using market forces to cut greenhouse gases. On the right shore, businesses say create a freewheeling emissions trading market in which California companies can satisfy greenhouse gas emissions reductions by planting trees in Tierra del Fuego. From their lounge chairs, they maintain markets are cheaper and more profitable than regulation. The profit motive to cut greenhouse gases can be, well, motivational. Now, here\u2019s the triangulated position, devised by the Coalition for Clean Air. In a document released earlier this month, the organization--chaired by Hollywood green lifestyle icon, Ed (first walk, then bike, then ride public transit, then drive an electric vehicle) Begley Jr.--said why not combine markets and publicly levied fees? Also represented on the organization\u2019s board are Southern California Edison and SoCal Gas. The coalition proposes that the Air Board allow emissions trading and offsets but require companies in environmental justice zones that don\u2019t cut greenhouse gas emissions to pay special fees. The fees would be used to create a community benefits fund that might be administered by local air districts and would help cities and local communities. Money could be used to improve energy efficiency and mitigate toxic and smog-forming air pollution from facilities that buy carbon credits or rely on carbon offsets to meet their greenhouse gas reduction requirements. By offering something for everybody, the proposal creates a consensus vehicle deftly positioned between and above proposals from left and right. In fact, in nautical terms, the proposal constitutes the lay line right into the harbor for the Air Board. That is the point when a sailboat can cruise into port without making anymore of those dastardly tacks. -Local air districts--whose boards are controlled by county supervisors and city council members who command ears in the state Legislature--get money to flash their green credentials in the war on climate change. -Cities get some money for green initiatives and associated ribbon cutting photo ops. Poor people who live near industrial facilities may see some relief when it comes to polluted air, get better access to respiratory health care, and save on utility bills. -Companies get their chance to save money through emissions trading and make the occasional adventurous trip to check on the tree growth at Punta Arenas. -The Air Resources Board sails to victory in its race against both greenhouse gases and conventional air pollution. The proposal is founded on the proposition that companies that buy emissions credits instead of reduce greenhouse gas emissions would continue to emit other unhealthful pollutants at the same level, forcing their neighbors \u201cto bear a higher burden of pollution exposure\u201d than those living around plants that cut greenhouse gases. That\u2019s because cutting greenhouse gases almost always automatically cuts associated emissions of toxic and smog-forming pollutants. To remedy this, the proposal would require the Air Board to identify areas where pollution already is disproportionately high and limit the ability of companies in those zones to trade allowances and purchase offsets. To the extent they could trade emissions and buy offsets at all, they would have to pay an added fee to finance the proposed community benefits fund. The state would dedicate a percentage of the proceeds of any carbon tax or carbon credit auctions to mitigate pollution and energy costs in those communities. State guidelines would prevent money in the community chest from winding up as \u201ccash vouchers for individuals.\u201d At the same time, though, local communities would get to play \u201can active role in determining how the fund will be utilized.\u201d So perhaps cap-and-trade has a future after all. Especially if the state can make sure at least some of the credits needed to operate in a carbon market are auctioned off and the proceeds are used to fund public purposes, such as low cost energy efficiency measures that cut greenhouse gas emissions and tamp down power rates. If I\u2019m tuning into the radio signals correctly--the Coalition for Clean Air\u2019s proposal seems to clearly identify the Air Board\u2019s position at sea and to point to a possible consensus course when it comes to regulating the power sector and other large industries under AB 32.