• California Air Resources Board Adopts Scoping Plan for Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • January 16, 2009
  • Law Firm: Best Best & Krieger LLP - Riverside Office
  • On December 11, 2008, after holding several public meetings and workshops and receiving tens of thousands of public comments, the California Air Resources Board (“ARB”), by unanimous vote, approved a new comprehensive Climate Change Scoping Plan (“Scoping Plan”) governing the emission of greenhouse gases. The Scoping Plan that was adopted is a central requirement of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.  AB 32 requires California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, which is nearly a 30 percent cut from “business-as-usual” emissions levels projected for 2020, or about a 15 percent cut from today’s emissions levels. Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 32 into law in September 2006.  On top of AB 32, the Governor signed Executive Order S-3-05 (E.O. S-3-05) in June 2005, which calls for a long range goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.  Thus, the Scoping Plan adopted by ARB is designed to aid in meeting both the targets in AB 32 and the targets in E.O. S-3-05.

    The 134-page Scoping Plan lays out targets for virtually every sector of the economy, including automobiles, refineries, buildings and landfills. An important component of the plan is a cap-and-trade program covering 85 percent of the state's emissions. This program will be developed in conjunction with the Western Climate Initiative, comprised of seven states and four Canadian provinces that have committed to cap their emissions and create a regional carbon market. Additional components of the plan include strategies to enhance and expand proven cost-saving energy efficiency programs, implementation of California's clean car standards, increases in the amount of clean and renewable energy used to power the state, and implementation of a low-carbon fuel standard. 

    The Scoping Plan would require a third of California's electricity to come from solar energy, wind farms and other renewable sources and proposes full deployment of the California Solar Initiative.  It also proposes high-speed rail, water-related energy efficiency measures, and a range of regulations to reduce emissions from trucks and from ships docked in California ports.  In addition, there are measures designed to safely reduce emissions of refrigerants and other greenhouse gasses released in commercial or industrial activities. Furthermore, there are measures included to decrease solid waste volumes in landfills, thereby reducing methane gas emissions that result from decomposing waste.

    Many of the measures of the Scoping Plan are designed to take advantage of the economic and innovation-related benefits that market based compliance strategies can provide. ARB points to positive economic impacts in the areas of public health, safe households and businesses, and economic investment and job growth. ARB optimistically predicts economic benefits by 2020 in the range of $55 billion.

    Most measures in the Scoping Plan will be implemented through rulemaking processes at ARB or other agencies. As a result, there will be further opportunity for public input, development, and analysis. With the exception of stated “Discrete Early Actions”, which will be in place by January 1, 2010, other regulations are expected to be adopted by January 1, 2011 and take effect at the beginning of 2012.