Governor sends mixed signals on greenhouse gas emissions caps

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, April 14, 2006

At the Climate Action Summit on Tuesday, April 11, in San Francisco, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called for a gradual approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saying a firm cap on emissions could hurt the economy, cost jobs and drive businesses out of the state.

Global warming policies should be implemented in a "sensible and deliberate way," he said.  "We don't want to go after business and make business leave the state.  We want to give them time."

The Governor’s comments at the Administration-sponsored summit took many by surprise, with lots of environmentalists accusing him of backing down from earlier statements about global warming.

He voiced support for starting off "without the caps" and waiting until after 2010 when a detailed study of a cap and trade system – in which companies would be allowed to buy and sell emission credits – is completed by the state Environmental Protection Agency.

In the meantime, Schwarzenegger said, the state’s industrial base (power plants, refineries and factories) should be required for the first time to begin reporting emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that are believed to contribute to climate change, as proposed in the Administration’s recently released Climate Action Plan.  He said that the reporting requirement would provide the framework for establishing "the world's best market-based system".

In a newspaper interview earlier in the day, Schwarzenegger likened the reporting requirement to weight lifting, saying the best way to know how much progress you are making is to record the amount of weight that is being lifted.  "That is the key next step," he said. "Do an inventory of all different sources of pollution."  

But if the environmental community was disappointed by the Governor’s comments at the San Francisco summit, they liked what they heard the following day when, in response to a reporter’s question, he said he "can live" with a cap starting in 2012, going so far as to call it "a great idea" that could achieve the Administration’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

He went on to say that he supports portions of AB 32, by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblywoman Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), which many expect will be amended soon to establish a cap, possibly in 2012.

CMTA is a member of a broad coalition engaged in responding to legislation affecting greenhouse gas emissions in California. The "Sustainable Environment and Economy for California Coalition" (SEE California) believes that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions should be accomplished in a manner that will not jeopardize our state's economy, jobs and energy supply.

Proponents of greenhouse gas regulations urge state policymakers to make California a world leader in addressing climate change.  In reality this means making California businesses solve a global problem and saddling them with untold new costs when they are already paying energy costs that are among the highest in the nation and 80 percent more than neighboring western states.  A mandatory cap on emissions is a mandatory cap on the economy.  Expansion of current manufacturing in the state would grind to a halt.  

State-imposed greenhouse gas regulations and a California-only approach would cause companies to expand in other states with fewer restrictions.  So rather than solving the problem, it merely moves the greenhouse gases to another location.

California already is a leader in finding ways to reduce global warming.  Businesses here are among the most energy efficient in the nation (charts), and becoming more so each year, proving that you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and not jeopardize California's economy or energy supply.

CMTA in the news on greenhouse gas emissions issue:
  • Read "Schwarzenegger wants market-based system to combat global warming" in the Associated Press
  • Listen to Dorothy Rothrock dicuss how a cap on greenhouse gas emissions will "cap California's economy" on Marketplace radio
  • Read "Environmentalists cheer governor's strong stands" in the San Diego Union Tribune
Read more Environmental Impacts articles

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