California approves plan for cap-and-trade program

By Erin Voegele
Web exclusive posted Dec. 17, 2008, at 5:28 p.m. CST

On Dec. 11, California's Air Resources Board voted to approve a Scoping Plan that defines the measures and strategies that will be used to reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions. The Scoping Plan was required under the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which mandates that California reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

One important component of the plan is a cap-and-trade program covering 85 percent of the state's emissions. This program was developed in conjunction with the Western Climate Initiative, which is comprised of seven U.S. states and four Canadian provinces that have committed to cap their emissions and create a regional carbon market. States and provinces included in the initiative include Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Utah, British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario.

According to ARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols, the plan will also guide capital investments into energy efficiency and renewable energy, which will help reduce dependence on oil. In addition, the plan will promote the development of hundreds of thousands of green jobs, she said.

"By moving first in the nation, California maintains its position at the front of the line in attracting venture capital, and positions us as a leader in the race to develop the clean technology products, patents and projects the global market demands and needs," Nichols said in a statement announcing the plan's approval.

The plan includes strategies to enhance and expand proven energy efficiency programs, to implement California's clean cars standard, and to increase the amount of clean and renewable energy used to power the state. It also includes recommendations for the implementation of a low-carbon fuel standard.

The ARB will begin developing detailed strategies to implement all of the recommended measures that must be in place by 2012. The Scoping Plan is available online at