Once again proving that it’s not afraid to pick up the government’s slack, the State of California made history when it adopted one of the nation’s first cap-and-trade system for regulating greenhouse-gas emissions on Thursday.
The program, which will begin in mid-2012 with auctions of the emissions allowances, will be the nation’s most stringent cap-and-trade mandate but not the first, writes GreenBiz.com It follows in the footsteps of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a program that covers utilities in Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states.
When the law goes into full effect, it will require all of the the state’s largest carbon emitters to meet emissions caps or buy credits if they cannot. A second phase of compliance begins in 2015 and is expected to include 85 percent of California’s emissions sources. By 2016, the program could represent $10 billion in traded carbon offsets, making it the biggest carbon market in the world after the European Union.
And thanks to stipulations that require all of the program’s carbon offset projects to be located within the United States, it’s a win-win scenario for Americans.
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a strong supporter of the original legislation, applauded the vote in a statement released Thursday evening.
“Today’s adoption of a cap-and-trade program is a major milestone for California’s continued leadership on reducing the world’s greenhouse gases. As I said both when we signed the legislation in 2006, and when we fought to protect it last year when Texas oil companies attempted to overturn it with Proposition 23, the most critical phase in the fight against climate change is diligently, aggressively, and correctly implementing this law.”
Some complain that the strict cap on carbon emissions will drive polluting companies and the few jobs they provide out of the state. But supporters and the Air Resources Board say the increase in “green” jobs encouraged by the legislation will outweigh short-term negative effects.
Image Credit: Flickr – Jim Bowen0306