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Governor Is Urged to Push for Monitoring of Emissions

April 03, 2006|Marc Lifsher | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's top environmental advisors, in a report on how to combat global warming, are recommending that the state require power plant operators and other heavy industries to report the amount of greenhouse gas they emit.

The report, which is expected to be released by the Schwarzenegger administration today, is the first step in fulfilling the governor's pledge last year to enact firm targets for reducing carbon dioxide pollution beginning as early as 2010.

"Mandatory reporting is something we need to get started on as soon as possible," said Terry Tamminen, the governor's advisor on energy and the environment. "You can't make targets if you don't have anything to measure."

Schwarzenegger, who is free to embrace or reject all or part of the recommendations from his Climate Action Team, is expected to signal the direction he wants to take at a global warming summit he's called for April 11 in San Francisco.

Environmentalists and Democratic lawmakers said they were heartened by the report. Business groups, however, said they were concerned that mandatory reporting of carbon dioxide pollution could lead to limits on greenhouse gas emissions that could destroy jobs in California by driving manufacturers to other states and countries.

"This is not about reporting. It's about caps," said Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce. Global warming is not a local problem and greenhouse gas emissions shouldn't be regulated by the state, he said.

The chamber and allied groups, including the California Farm Bureau, the Western States Petroleum Assn. and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, have asked the state to study how the governor's greenhouse gas initiative might affect jobs.

The release of the administration report is designed to coincide with the planned unveiling today of a bill by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblywoman Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). The bill would direct the California Air Resources Board to set mandatory caps on industry that would meet the governor's target of lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 25% over forecasted levels by 2020.

The governor is committed to working with the Legislature to meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets he set in a June 2005 executive order, Tamminen said.

"By setting binding limits, the bill will make the governor's targets real," said Devra Wang, an energy expert with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The climate team's recommendations, signaled in a draft report released in December, include a proposal to levy a small tax on gasoline sales to finance research in alternatives to fossil fuels, but Schwarzenegger has said he won't pursue that option.

Most scientists believe that global warming is caused in part by pollution from burning coal and other fossil fuels. According to the administration report, the rapid buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is raising temperatures around the globe, causing the polar icecaps to shrink and raising ocean levels.

Backers of both the bill and the climate team recommendations agree that California needs a market-based solution for fighting greenhouse gas pollution. They contend that reporting emissions and allowing trading of rights to emit carbon dioxide in limited amounts would create incentives for California scientists and companies to develop new technologies to counter global warming.

They cite a UC Berkeley study released in January predicting that the governor's greenhouse gas reduction target could create over 20,000 new jobs and add $60 billion to California's gross state product by 2020.

Though mainline business groups question the upbeat economic analysis, a number of other business groups, particularly venture capitalists and high-tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, are enthusiastic about the proposed campaign to combat greenhouse gas.

"We don't want to be dismissive of potential negative impacts to certain sectors of the economy, but at the same time, we recognize that there are potential opportunities as well," said Margaret Bruce, environmental program director for the Silicon Valley Leadership group.

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