NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 1, 2006

In what amounts to a "go-it-alone" strategy to tackle perceived global warming, California will become the first state to impose a cap on all greenhouse gas emissions, including those from industrial plants, under a landmark deal reached this week, says H. Sterling Burnett, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Under the agreement, California will attempt to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels over the next 14 years -- a reduction of about 25 percent.

Despite its ambition, the effect of the measure is largely symbolic.  "California's actions will do little or nothing to prevent future warming, even if humans are a significant cause of the present warming cycle," says Burnett.  "But what it will do is harm the California economy and increase the price of food and fuel in a state that already has among the highest prices for these goods in the nation."

In addition, Burnett predicted the business community might challenge these regulations in the Court system. Since the federal government has neither adjudged CO2 to be a pollutant nor regulated it, it's not clear that California has the authority to do so.  

Current litigation may help resolve the issue:

  • California and several environmental activist groups are currently presenting opening briefs defending regulations the state previously adopted to limit CO2 from automobiles.
  • A lower court, in a split decision, overturned California's auto emissions law.

If the Supreme Court upholds this decision, then California's new effort may be moot as well.

Source: "California Embarks On Symbolic Climate Change Policy," National Center for Policy Analysis, August 31, 2006.


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