Published June 23, 2008 08:39 AM

California to unveil ambitious plan to battle global warming

California's air board, for years an obscure state agency, will take center stage this week when it unveils a blueprint for the nation's most aggressive fight against global warming, a newspaper report said on Sunday.

 The plan is expected to affect every resident, industry and government agency in the state in the coming decade, the San Francisco Chronicle said.


   The far-reaching plan, which comes 18 months after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed landmark legislation to curb greenhouse emissions by one-third by 2020, is likely to encourage consumers to use energy-efficient light bulbs and replace gas-guzzling cars with fuel-sipping hybrids.

    The plan could require industry to reduce pollution or pay fees based on the amount of carbon they release, according to the report.

    Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, said the draft of the "scoping plan," which the agency's staff will present next Thursday to the 11-member board, will be a work in progress until the final version is adopted by the end of the year.

 "We've been clear up until now that the draft plan will lay out our background information on where the state's emissions come from, how much they need to be reduced, and lay out a strategy on how to address them sector by sector," Nichols said.

    About 60 percent of the needed reductions can be obtained by implementing existing regulations or new rules that are in the regulatory pipeline, Nichols said.

    Those rules include the state's desire to impose the nation's toughest greenhouse gas standards on cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles, which is the subject of a legal battle between California and the Bush administration stemming from the Environmental Protection Agency's refusal to grant California an exemption to impose the regulations.

    One idea is to charge a fee on businesses, manufacturing plants, refineries and electric utilities to pay for releasing carbon into the air, an idea that some environmental groups support.

    But industry groups favor market-based systems such as "cap and trade" under which businesses would be encouraged to cut emissions but could purchase carbon credits from firms with low emissions.

    The air board is working on a rule that would require refineries to produce low-carbon fuels, according to the report.

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