Yesterday California Democratic legislative leaders and Governor Schwarzenegger reached a deal on legislation to reduce greenhouse gases in an effort to halt the advance of global warming. The legislation requires a 25% percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB), as the lead agency, to adopt regulations to curb emissions and to set up a cap-and-trade system to allow less polluting companies to sell emission credits to more polluting companies. As part of the deal the Governor would have the authority to delay the deadlines for up to a year in case of natural or economic disasters, a point Schwarzenegger insisted on.
All businesses must reduce emissions, beginning in 2012, to meet the 2020 deadline. CARB, which developed California's strict and groundbreaking low-emission vehicle/clean fuels regulations in the 1980s and early 1990s, enjoys strong support and has the staff expertise to develop a creative regulatory program to meet the law's goals. It will develop targets for each industry, and may impose fees to fund aspects of the program. Schwarzenegger also insisted on a cap-and-trade system. The bill does not explicitly require such a system but authorizes CARB to set one up.
The deal, which has been in the works for several months, marks the evolution of Schwarzenegger over the past several years from action-hero recall winner to cheerleader at the 2004 GOP convention to tough guy who called Democrats in the Legislature "girly men" and promised to kick the nurses' butt but got his own kicked in an ill-fated special election in 2005 to bipartisan dealmaker running for a second term. As part of his retreat from the hard-right, divisive policies of last year, Schwarzenegger began early in the year to take a more conciliatory and a "greener" stance.