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State Approves Ambitious Greenhouse-Gas Plan

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State approves ambitious greenhouse-gas plan

jdowning@sacbee.com

Published Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008

With a promise to look more cosely at the economic impacts of fighting climate change, the California Air Resources Board unanimously approved an ambitious new greenhouse-gas game plan for the state.

"This scoping plan puts California on a path to a low-carbon, sustainable, green economy," said CARB Chairman Mary Nichols.

The cuts to greenhouse gases are required under Assembly Bill 32, a state law passed in 2006 that committed California to the nation�s most aggressive anti-global-warming target - reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The air board�s moves are being watched closely around the country.

The plan approved this afternoon is an outline of the state�s climate strategy. The biggest emissions reductions will come from a tripling of the renewable power generation capacity by 2020, major improvements in the energy efficiency of homes and businesses, a sharp increase in vehicle fuel economy and a reduction in the carbon content of motor fuels. The plan also demands major cuts through a new market for buying and selling the right to produce greenhouse gases - a so-called cap and trade system.

Regulators will spend the next two years filling in the details of the plan, with most policies taking effect in 2012 or later.

At today's hearing, the board passed a resolution pledging deeper economic analysis of emissions-cutting regulations going forward.

In a press conference, Nichols added that similar efficiency mandates in the past have benefited the California economy.

"Time after time," she said, "it turns out that these improvements have saved us money and helped our economy leap ahead of other states."

In the coming year, the board will address some of the knottier questions that the scoping plan left unanswered. Probably the largest of those is the structure of the market system for trading greenhouse-gas emissions.

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