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Sacramento Bee (California)
Oct 24, 2006 - 01:00 AM

by Judy Lin, Bee Capitol Bureau

Global gas law stirs heated debate;

Perata says governor has strayed from the plan's intent.
The leader of the state Senate on Monday accused Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of overstepping his authority in implementing California's pioneering plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Governor's Office fired back, saying he would not deviate from a market-based approach he believes would reach emission targets without disrupting California's economy.

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata of Oakland on Monday sent a letter to Schwarzenegger pointing out differences between the governor's executive order and the global warming bill negotiated with Democrats in the state Legislature in late August.

The executive order directs the Air Resources Board to develop a market-based compliance program at the same time as the overall framework for the program.

"In contrast, the law requires the (board) adopt 'early action' emission reduction measures prior to the use of any market-based compliance mechanism," Perata wrote in his letter.

Perata asked that the governor rescind the order, and noted that the Senate would in turn "ensure faithful adherence to the law" as it considers Schwarzenegger's budget proposal and appointments."

The governor's press secretary, Margita Thompson, denied any attempt to undermine the 11-member board's authority to establish regulations and procedures.

"The governor is committed to working with leaders of the Legislature to reach historic reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions. The view here is that the executive order is consistent with the legislation," Thompson said.

Perata's letter reveals unresolved concerns that had been cited by some environmentalists even as the landmark environmental bill was being negotiated this summer. The Republican governor has portrayed himself as an environmental champion in signing the Democrats' Assembly Bill 32, the plan to reduce industrial greenhouse gases by 25 percent by the year 2020.

Negotiations over the bill hinged largely on whether the state should mandate market-based trading of carbon emissions, which would allow businesses to buy, sell and trade credits with other companies in order to meet greenhouse emissions caps.

Both sides agreed that while trading wouldn't be required in the bill, the administration could pursue that approach so that businesses could meet their quotas at the lowest cost.

Schwarzenegger announced last week in New York that his administration will work with at least eight Eastern states to enable businesses to trade pollution credits. In August, Schwarzenegger signed an accord with British Prime Minister Tony Blair pledging Britain and California to share strategies in response to climate change.

But such moves committing the state to market-based trading have made some environmentalists nervous.

"The governor's executive order jumps the gun and decides that the best (decision) for California on greenhouse gas reductions is a pollution trading scheme with the (European Union) and the Northeast states," according to a statement released by a coalition of environmental groups including Sierra Club and California Communities Against Toxics.

Concerned that market-based trading will undermine the state's tough emissions standards, environmental groups have criticized the governor's approach, arguing that air pollution markets have failed.

The executive order Schwarzenegger signed last week designates the secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency as the state's leader for program development, although the law states that the Air Resources Board is the lead agency.

In his letter, Perata noted that several of the governor's positions on governance "appear to conflict with explicit provisions of law you signed less than a month ago."

The Bee's Judy Lin can be reached at (916) 321-1115 or jlin@sacbee.com.




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