California's Historic Deal To Curb Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In a stunning blow to big business in California, Gov. Schwarzenegger carved an agreement with the Democratic legislature to sign a landmark bill that will require a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 -- the first in the nation.
September 2, 2006, 5am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"Although the deal in California is strongly opposed by Republicans in the Legislature and many business leaders across the state, it assures that a bill on the restrictions will be passed before the legislative session ends Thursday and will be signed by Mr. Schwarzenegger."

"The first major controls are scheduled to begin in 2012, with the aim of reducing the emissions to their level in 1990. The legislation allows for incentives to businesses to help reach the goals, but opponents warn that the state may be sacrificing its economic interests for a quixotic goal."

“If our manufacturers leave, whether for North Carolina or China, and they take their greenhouse gases with them, we might not have solved the problem but exacerbated it instead,” said Allan Zaremberg, the president of the state’s Chamber of Commerce.

The Assembly speaker, Fabian Núñez, who sponsored the bill along with Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, called Wednesday the "most important day of my legislative career."

"The deal on Wednesday on the emissions legislation nearly foundered at least three times in the past week as Mr. Schwarzenegger’s negotiators reached seeming impasses with the Legislature over important issues: whether the bill would require the creation of market mechanisms like emissions credits to help industries meet the new standards; how broad to make exemptions during emergencies like the state’s electricity crisis six years ago, and how to administer and enforce the law."

"Ralph Cavanagh, the co-director of the energy program of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a telephone interview: “This is not an act of altruism. This is an act of enlightened self-interest. By accelerating the effort to reduce global warming pollution, California will benefit its own economy and environment and in so doing will set the best possible example for other states and nations.”

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Published on Thursday, August 31, 2006 in The New York Times
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