“California governor orders country’s most aggressive emission cut goals” – The Washington Post, 29 April 2015

California is currently undergoing an overly aggressive, record-breaking drought. In order to combat that drought, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) has not only put a cap on how much water residents can use, but is also placing a cap on emissions levels.

For California, the worsening effects of climate change have directly led to its water shortage. Greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants are the major culprit for the state’s remarkable drought. To combat the drought and any further climate change damage, Brown has issued a new executive order that has created new carbon emission goals for his state.

Brown’s aim is to curb emissions by 40 percent less than emissions levels in 1990, and to do so by 2030. Not even Arnold Schwarzenegger, who held the term before Brown, had such expectations for the state: Schwarzenegger’s aim was to cut emissions so that they were equal to 1990 levels, and to do so by 2020. Schwarzenegger then wanted to cut emissions an additional 20 percent by 2050. According to Brown, California is well on its way to fulfilling Schwarzenegger’s goal.

Brown is committing his last term in office to climate change. During his inaugural speech, he pledged that half of the state’s electricity will come from renewable energies over the course of 15 years. He also intends to halve petroleum use in vehicles on state roads.

The state is now required to integrate the effects of climate change into its infrastructure and financial planning. Moreover, state agencies are obligated to place caps on emissions for any supplies of emissions that they oversee.

In addition to the executive order, California has also signed an accord with Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia that aims at restricting carbon emissions in the regional area. Brown has signed similar agreements with countries like Mexico, China, Japan, Israel, and Peru. The Governor is hoping his work will make an impact at the upcoming UN climate change conference in Paris.

Previously, California tried to enact a program called “cap and trade,” where they required companies to pay for greenhouse gas emissions. However, the state’s Senators and Representatives — particularly the Democrats — fought back, alleging that the program would directly impact the poorest Californians. Hopefully Brown’s latest endeavor into mollifying the effects of climate change will pan out. California’s voice is very influential and proactive, particularly on a global scale.

(From The Washington Post)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

April 30, 2015

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2015. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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“Utah Cracks Down on Smog” – Wall Street Journal, 12 March 2013

Due to high levels of smog, Utah is enacting new regulations to decrease smog-creating airborne particulates by 40%, similar to California’s cap and trade program. Though some companies think the new regulations go too far, new rules will help the state abide by federal clean-air standards set by the EPA. Utah is hoping the legislation will be put into place by 2014.

The smog gathers on Utah’s Wasatch Front, the pollution sitting over a city of 2.1 million people. So far this winter, state officials have announced 35 “red alert” days in Salt Lake City, the highest level of unhealthy air quality. In response to the smog, groups like the Utah Clean Air Alliance have formed, aimed at urging the state to reduce emissions allowances. However, Utah is widely known as a business-friendly, regulation-averse state, and, in the past, has allowed many companies to expand without lowering their emissions caps.

Metal smelters, steelmakers, wood manufacturers, specific restaurants, auto body shops and hair salons will be most drastically hit by the Utah Division of Air Quality’s new regulations, which will prove costly.

By August 1, for example, restaurants that use chain-driven flame broilers to cook their meat will have to install catalytic converters to catch any particulates. The new rules will also limit the amount of volatile organic compounds found in industrial coatings and consumer products,  like wood stains, paint primers and hair spray. Additionally, auto body shops will have to switch to water-based primers.

Many residents and small businesses don’t believe Utah’s new regulations go far enough, and that big businesses won’t be monitored by the state. Industry representatives maintain that auto pollution is the real culprit, citing a report from the Division of Air Quality shows that 52% of particulates come from vehicle exhaust, and the rest from small businesses.

In light of the “gridlocked political environment” currently in Washington, it seems unlikely that any climate legislation will pass at the national level until 2014 mid-term national elections, as Republicans and red state Democrats in both the House and Senate run for “conservative political covers”.

Until then (and maybe even beyond 2014, if democrats don’t take control of the House and achieve a filibuster-proof majority in Senate), the only two viable options are:

1. Let states, such as California and now Utah, regulate emission at the state level. Which states are likely to follow? Perhaps Oregon, Washington, New York and other Northeastern  states.

2. Let President Obama and the EPA initiate and enforce emission standards as articulated by the President in his second inaugural address. The US Supreme court has already upheld EPA’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases under existing Clean Air Act.

We are betting that the best solution will be the first option, as it has been for so many recent social changes, such as “gun violence  and “marriage equality”, that have occurred at the state level.

See also:
On Climate Change, Some Arguments Shift
Europe’s Emissions Plan Hits Turbulence
Your Biggest Carbon Sin May Be Air Travel
A Grand Experiment to Rein In Climate Change

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

March 26, 2013

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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“A Grand Experiment to Rein In Climate Change” — New York Times, 13 October 2012

In an effort to restrain any further progression of climate change, California will become the first state to make companies pay for the greenhouse gases they release. The program, called “cap and trade”, will begin on 1 January 2013.

The “cap and trade” program is a governmental system that places a restriction on the amount of emissions a company can produce, or a ‘cap’. The program also permits utilities, manufacturers, industries and companies to trade pollution permits, also called allowances, among themselves. Instead of using direct regulation, the premise of cap-and-trade is to control emissions through market forces – many view cap-and-trade as a tax.

California will set a ceiling and allocate amounts for companies individually. Some of the cap-and-trade allowances will be given to different companies across a spectrum of industries; what’s left will be auctioned. The goal is to slowly decrease the number of allotted allowances, which should compel decreased emissions.

Companies can purchase allowances at auction or on the carbon market. Companies can obtain offset credits by purchasing allowances from other companies that have reached their target emission-levels; or, from other companies that eliminate greenhouse gases and pollutants from the environment.

California’s goal is to reduce its emissions by almost 30% by 2020. However, the program poses great risks – namely, hurting an already-fragile state economy. Many fear that cap-and-trade will force an array of different companies – such as refineries, cement makers, glass factories – to leave the state. There is also a fear that companies will find a way around the program, which could hurt California’s chances of reaching its emission goal.

Currently, four methods of carbon reduction can obtain offset credits: timber management; coolant gas destruction; decrease in methane emissions through livestock waste; and city tree-planting projects. Offset projects are being developed in over 20 states and are preparing to join the new carbon market.

Because there is room for misuse in the cap-and-trade program, there is a great need for trained verifiers. This past summer, Los  Angeles held a test-preparation course that coached verifiers to become experts in the new system. These verifiers will be hired by companies to audit their emissions claims.

What are the pros and cons? Will a cap-and-trade program be affective enough to reduce pollutants and emissions, or will this program backfire and bring further damage to California’s delicate economy?

What actions, if any, will our reelected president take on the national stage? Will the Republican-controlled House let Obama take any action? Will he focus on economy, while takes a backseat again? Or will Hurricane Sandy make a bigger political impact, as it did on the just concluded US elections? There are many questions, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear path yet.

Conceived, Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

November 7th, 2012

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2012. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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