Monday, November 26, 2007
Interestingly, the ARB staff estimates a fairly low cost of compliance for the reporting obligations that the new regulations will impose -- on the order of $3,000 to $300,000 per facility, with the higher costs imposed on the larger more complicated facilities (see pages 82-85 of the PDF). The economic impact of AB 32 will not result from reporting GHG emissions, but from reducing them.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Today, two related news stories broke that could decide the next US Presidential election.
First, greenhouse gases, which were not expected to cross the critical 450 ppm threshold for another decade, in fact are already at 455. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will report next month that earth passed the 450 threshold in mid-2005, according to Tim Flannery, an award-winning climate scientist who has reportedly seen the report's underlying data. Dr. Flannery was quoted by Reuters and the Christian Science Monitor as saying, "What the report establishes is that the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is already above the threshold that could potentially cause dangerous climate change." See http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1011/p11s01-wogi.html for the Monitor's story.
Second, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 has been awarded jointly to the IPCC and Al Gore "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change." See http://nobelpeaceprize.org/. The Committee went on to say:
"Al Gore has for a long time been one of the world's leading environmentalist politicians. He became aware at an early stage of the climatic challenges the world is facing. His strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change. He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted.
"By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world’s future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man’s control."
The Peace Prize is awarded by an Oslo-based committee of five, coincidentally the same number of (Washington-D.C.-based) people who decided the 2000 US Presidential election against Mr. Gore.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Here's a thesis that's getting some attention: the growing focus on de-carbon-izing the atmosphere is distracting the world from its only hope of averting climate change disaster. That hope, according to Alan Carlin, a Senior Economist at USEPA, is solar radiation management, or SRM. Essentially a form of global climate engineering, SRM involves the introduction of particulate matter into the stratosphere to block incoming radiation and, thereby, turn down the planet's thermostat. As proof of the approach's efficacy, Mr. Carlin cites evidence that volcanic eruptions have caused measureable, sustained reductions in average world temperature.
Mr. Carlin's article, which appeared in the September/October 2007 issue of The Enviromental Forum (a publication of the Environmental Law Institute), can be found here: http://carlineconomics.googlepages.com/CarlinEnvForum.pdf.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Chalk up another victory to the states in their ongoing battle with the federal government over regulation of GHG emissions from motor vehicles. On Wednesday, District Court Judge William Sessions determined that the GHG regulations first enacted by California and later adopted by Vermont are not preempted by federal law.
In a massive, 240-page opinion following trial, the Court roundly rejected the automobile industry's challenges under various preemption theories. In particular, the Court held that: (1) California's regulations were not expressly preempted by either Section 209(b) of the federal Clean Air Act or the fuel economy standards of the Environmental Policy and Conservation Act; (2) federal law does not "occupy the field" of regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles; (3) the regulations do not sufficiently "conflict" with federal laws to warrant preemption; and (4) the regulations do not intrude upon or conflict with national foreign policy.
Conflict preemption was the primary focus of both the trial and the opinion. At trial, the automobile industry attempted to prove that the state regulations stood as an obstacle to EPCA's objectives and purposes by demonstrating that the regulations were technologically and economically infeasible. The Court was not persuaded: "In light of the the public statements of industry representatives, history of compliance with previous technological challenges, and the state of the record, the Court remains unconvinced automakers cannot meet the challenges of Vermont and California's GHG regulations."
The opinion can be found here: http://www.vtd.uscourts.gov/Cases/05cv302.html
Brett S. Henrikson, Esq.
Barg Coffin Lewis & Trapp, LLP
Steuart Tower, Suite 2700
San Francisco, CA 94105
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
It may not be news, but now it's scientifically documented: when we export manufacturing to China and import the resulting goods back here, the net result is to increase greenhouse gas emissions. See the June 2007 paper by Carnegie Mellon University engineers Christopher L. Weber and Scott H. Matthews, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Here's a link to a press release about the paper: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-06/cmu-cmr061407.php.
This phenomenon is likely to accelerate as less-than-global cap-and-trade schemes are enacted.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
announced a nearly-national greenhouse gas registry today.
Friday, May 04, 2007
Today's International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, "Mitigation of Climate Change," outlines ways to mitigate global warming. http://www.ipcc.ch/
Wednesday's USA Today story previewing the report is headlined "Fixing climate carries big costs." http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/environment/2007-05-02-climate-fix-cost_N.htm. As a result, many may resist taking action to fix climate change because they believe the costs are big.
What is missing from the headline, however, is any consideration of the costs of not taking action. As the report's "Summary for Policymakers" states, "The projected mitigation costs do not take into account potential benefits of avoided climate change." http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM040507.pdf, p. 10. Moreover, available evidence, notably the Stern report, indicates that "the benefits of strong and early action far outweigh the economic costs of not acting." http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/999/76/CLOSED_SHORT_executive_summary.pdf.
To be fair, USA Today's story beneath the headline went on to say, "The report will underline the environmental and financial benefits of quick action to cut emissions." But the headline is an example of how incomplete analysis can paint a misleading picture.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
On that note, the World Bank reports that the global carbon market tripled from $11 billion to $30 billion in 2006, with the EU accounting for about 75 percent of that amount. http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/05/02/business/carbon.php.
Monday, April 30, 2007
As is so often the case in matters of environmental policy, the law of unintended consequences is rearing its problematic head in the much-hyped bio-fuels arena. Whether and how much bio-fuels may help solve global warming depends on many factors, Mike Corder of the Associated Press reported yesterday:
In the rush to develop biofuels, forests are burned in Asia to clear land for palm oil, and swaths of the Amazon are stripped of diverse vegetation for soya and sugar plantations for ethanol.
Mr. Corder's article goes on to explain that a Dutch commission has developed a framework designed to ferret out whether a given bio-fuel production process is doing more harm than good.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
There are a number of additional interesting documents, including the Governor's executive orders regarding the Low Carbon Fuel Standard and the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative, on the Governor's energy page.
Monday, April 09, 2007
AB 32 adds a new Division 25.5 to the Health & Safety Code, starting at Section 38500. Part 1, Sections 38500 to 38505, contains a short title (the "California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006"), findings and declarations, and definitions. The Act defines greenhouse gases to include not only carbon dioxide and methane, but also nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.
Part 2, Section 38530, authorizes the State Air Resources Board to adopt regulations requiring the reporting and verification of greenhouse gas emissions. The regulations may apply to all "greenhouse gas emissions sources," and the State Board has discretion to determine which sources are significant enough to be regulated. Thus, the statute ducks the question of whether greenhouse gas regulations should apply to sources at the level of leaf blowers and lawn mowers, or just to large industrial users. The statute does require, however, that the State Board "[a]ccount for all electricity consumed in the state."
Part 3, Sections 38550 and 38551, requires the State Board to determine the state's level of greenhouse gas emissions in 1990, set that level as a target for emissions in 2020, and continue reductions after 2020.
Part 4, Sections 38560 to 38565, sets forth the tools that the State Board may use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. First, the State Board's regulations must be designed to "achieve the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective greenhouse gas emission reductions from sources or categories of sources." Second, subject to that standard, the State Board shall publish a list by June 30, 2007 -- three months from now -- of "early action" measures that can be implemented in regulations to be adopted by January 1, 2010. Third, by January 1, 2009, the State Board shall prepare a "scoping plan," which will be updated every five years, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Fourth, by January 1, 2011, The State Board shall adopt regulations, which will become effective January 1, 2012, to achieve the plan. The Act includes principles to guide the Board in developing regulations (minimizing costs and maximizing benefits), and in particular AB 32 requires in Part 5, Section 38570, that the State Board consider a cap-and-trade emissions system.
Parts 6 and 7 contain enforcement and miscellaneous provisions; the Board is empowered to mpose fees on greenhouse gas sources, and there is an escape clause that allows the Governor to postpone deadlines set by the State Board in one-year increments. There's more detail, but that's the gist of it.
Here in summary is the time-table:
- June 30, 2007: Identification of early action measures
- January 1, 2009: State Board to prepare scoping plan
- January 1, 2010: Early action measure regulations to be adopted
- January 1, 2011: Adopt regulations to achieve scoping plan
- January 1, 2012: Regulations become effective