AB-32: Now What?

Whew. OK, two years after California’s Global Warming Solutions Act was passed into law, the “solutions” package now has the force of regulation…sort of.

The unanimous vote of the California Air Resources Board yesterday to accept its “scoping plan” for implementation, wasn’t so much the final gun as the second-half kickoff. Don’t get me wrong: the vote was momentous as a kind of intermediate milestone. But there’s a lot to do if the law is really to kick in as scheduled, three years from now.

For instance, there’s that whole cap-and-trade thing. When it comes to putting a market in place for trading carbon credits, the carbon cops in Sacramento have agreed to collaborate with a half-dozen other states and follow the general conventions of the Western Climate Initiative, which are still to be worked out.

Then there’s that pesky EPA waiver to let California put its own regulations for tailpipe emissions in place. The state law enabling that has been on the books for about five years now, stalled by federal EPA officials under the Bush administration. Okay, that’s a gimme. We already know that waiver will finally be granted, sometime shortly after Inauguration Day. But even that signals the start of a complex internal process to get the new regs in place.

In fact, virtually nothing about AB-32 is automatic. As they say, the Devil is in the details. And most details have yet to be laid out, argued about, and worked out, before we can really start marking progress toward the broad goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions (which are still rising, worldwide).

I sat down with James Goldstene, Executive Officer of the Air Board, and asked him what happens next. You can hear his answer by clicking on the player, below.

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