, Calif. (June 26, 2008) – California charted a fast and steady course toward solving the planet’s most pressing environmental problem with the unveiling today of a draft plan to implement its Global Warming Solutions Act, according to NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council), which co-sponsored the landmark law. The blueprint sets forth the outlines of an ambitious, multi-sector effort to create a clean energy economy in the nation’s most populous state.
The release of the draft “Scoping Plan” by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) comes amid grim reminders – Midwest flooding and California wildfires – of the grave threats scientists say can be expected if heat-trapping pollution from the burning of fossil fuels isn’t reduced quickly. It also comes less than a month after the U.S. Senate failed to pass national climate legislation, underscoring California’s imperative need to act.
“The U.S. Senate’s failure to pass national climate legislation puts the spotlight back on California,” said Robert Redford, NRDC trustee, actor and producer. “California’s global warming leadership has never been more important, as it's abundantly clear that we simply can’t afford to wait for Washington to come to our rescue.”
The draft plan lays out a suite of tools and measures, a combination of which are needed to reduce pollution emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as required by the California law. The bulk of the plan consists of standards and regulations for the many sectors – fuels, vehicles, power plants and industrial plants, among others – that are the main sources of heat-trapping pollution. The requirements would form an essential foundation for pollution reductions and spur technological innovation, according to NRDC.
“California is on track to transform its economy to run on clean, efficient energy,” said Audrey Chang, director of NRDC’s California climate program. “The state is putting in place practical, cost effective solutions that will clean the air, protect our climate and catalyze business growth and job creation”
NRDC’s policy experts highlighted two new measures in the scoping plan as particularly important and called for their inclusion in the final blueprint. State lawmakers are also considering these measures as separate legislation, and NRDC urged their enactment into law:
Requirements making water use efficiency a statewide policy to ensure not just water savings, but also energy savings and reduced global warming emissions (AB 2175 by Assemblymembers John Laird and Mike Feuer); and
A statewide 33 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to increase the amount of energy produced from clean, renewable sources (SB 411 by Sen. Joe Simitian).
NRDC policy experts warned, however, that emissions reductions could be overwhelmed by the rapid pace of uncontrolled development that is forcing Californians to drive an ever increasing number of miles. Although the draft plan calls for a better regional planning approach, NRDC said stronger measures are needed to give people more choices to get out of their cars. In addition to improving this part of the scoping plan, NRDC called on the Legislature to pass SB 375 by Sen. Darrell Steinberg, a bill that would provide incentives for cities to plan and build more efficient neighborhoods.
“We would like to see more complementary measures designed to reduce vehicle miles traveled,” said Amanda Eaken, NRDC smart growth policy expert. “In particular, incentives for infill development and more funding for public transportation are urgently needed.”
In addition to these measures, the air board proposed a cap-and-trade program, which if well designed, offers the potential of achieving even greater reductions than would be possible through standards and regulations alone, according to NRDC.
“Businesses will have to factor the cost of their pollution into everyday decision-making,” said Chang. “The concrete cap on carbon emissions will create market certainty and incentives for innovation. We can expect to see jobs and growth and innovation as the clean energy economy takes hold in California and beyond.”
CARB will hold public workshops on the draft scoping plan during the summer before proposing and adopting a final blueprint in the fall. State regulators will then flesh out the sector-by-sector rules in greater detail, with most of them taking effect in 2012.