California Air Resources Board Approves Plan for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions Measures

January 16, 2009

On December 11, 2008, the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) approved a plan, called a Scoping Plan (the “Plan”), which seeks to reduce California’s greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as required by Assembly Bill (“AB”) 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Nunez, Pavely). The Plan is the result of an 18-month long public process involving workshops, public meetings, hundreds of individuals testifying before the board and 43,000 individual comments. According to CARB, the Plan is “built on the principal that a balanced mix of strategies is the best way to cut emissions by approximately 30 percent, and grow the economy in a clean and sustainable direction."

The Plan includes the following elements for emissions reductions measures:

Cap-and-Trade Program

  • A cap-and-trade program providing a firm 85% cap on the state’s emissions, which will be linked with other Western Climate Initiative Partner programs to create a regional market system.
  • The cap-and-trade program will apply to electricity generation and large industrial facilities that emit over 25,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions (“CO2E”) per year in 2012 and a secondary compliance period will begin in 2015 for upstream treatment of industrial fuel combustion at facilities with emissions at or below 25,000 metric tons CO2E, and all commercial and residential fuel combustion regulated where the fuel enters into commerce and transportation fuel combustion regulated where the fuel enters into commerce.

California Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Standards

  • A three-prong strategy to (1) reduce GHG emissions from vehicles, (2) reduce the carbon content of the fuel these vehicles burn and (3) reduce the miles these vehicles travel.
  • Efforts in the strategy include the Pavley GHG vehicle standards to achieve near-term emission reductions (currently on hold because EPA has denied California’s waiver request, but CARB is evaluating using feebates as a backstop), the Zero Emission Vehicle program and the Air Quality Improvement Program and Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program funded by AB 118.

Energy Efficiency

  • Maximize energy efficiency building and appliance standards, and pursue additional efficiency efforts, including new technologies, and new policy and implementation mechanisms.
  • Efforts would include solar water heating systems and combined heat and power (also referred to as cogeneration).

Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS)

  • Achieve 33% renewable energy mix statewide pursuant to Governor Schwarzenegger’s Executive Order S-14-08, which directed that all retailers of electricity serve 33% of their load with renewable energy by 2020, and which created a streamlined “one-stop” process for permitting renewable energy generation plants.

Low Carbon Fuel Standard

  • Develop a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) to reduce the carbon intensity of California’s transportation fuels by at least 10% by 2020 pursuant to Governor Schwarzenegger’s Executive Order S-01-07. LCFS was a Discrete Early Action item and CARB is developing a regulation for Board consideration in March 2009.

Regional Transportation-Related Greenhouse Gas Targets

  • SB 375, which Governor Schwarzenegger signed in September 2008, establishes mechanisms for the development of regional targets for reducing passenger vehicle GHG emissions and requires CARB, in consultation with metropolitan planning organizations, to develop GHG reduction targets for 2020 and 2035 by September 30, 2010.

  • Supporting measures to be considered include congestion pricing strategies to manage traffic demand while raising funds for needed transit, biking and pedestrian infrastructure investment, employee transit incentives, telework programs, car sharing, parking policies, public education programs and other strategies that reduce vehicle trips while preserving personal mobility; and pay as you drive insurance, a structure in which drivers realize a direct financial benefit from driving less.

Vehicle Efficiency Measures

  • Consider regulation to ensure that tires are properly inflated when vehicles are serviced.
  • California Integrated Waste Management Board and CEC are considering the adoption of minimum fuel-efficient tire standards and consumer information requirements for replacing tires.
  • Other pursuits include ways to reduce engine load via lower friction oil and reducing the need for air conditioner use.

Goods Movement

  • CARB has already adopted a regulation to require ship electrification while in ports
  • Propose additional measures to reduce GHG emissions due to goods movement from trucks, ports and other related facilities, such as CARB’s Heavy-Duty Vehicle-Efficiency measure, which could involve advanced combustion strategies, friction reduction, waste heat recovery, and electrification of accessories.

Million Solar Roofs Program

  • California has set a goal to install 3,000 megawatts of new solar capacity by 2017 as part of Governor Schwarzenegger’s Million Solar Roofs Program (SB1). The Million Solar Roof Initiative is a ratepayer-financed incentive program aimed at driving down costs of rooftop solar systems over time. Requires publicly-owned utilities to adopt, implement and finance a solar incentive program.

Medium/Heavy-Duty Vehicles

  • Require retrofits to improve fuel efficiency of heavy-duty tracks, hybridization of medium and heavy duty trucks.

Industrial Emissions

  • Require industrial facilities to conduct an energy efficiency audit of individual combustion and other direct sources of GHG gases within the facility to determine the potential reduction opportunities. CARB will use the results to determine if certain emissions sources within a facility can make cost-effective reductions of GHG emissions that also provide reductions in other criteria or toxic pollutants.
  • Develop measures to reduce methane emissions in the oil and gas production and gas transmission processes from leaks and incomplete combustion of methane (used as fuel), including improved leak detection, process modifications, equipment retrofits, installation of new equipment and best management practices.
  • Develop measures to reduce emissions from oil refineries, including limiting the GHG emissions from refinery flares while preserving flaring as needed for safety reasons and removing the current fugitive methane exemption in most refinery Volatile Organic Compounds regulations, which was established because methane does not contribute to urban smog, but does play a role in global warming.

High Speed Rail

  • Support implementation of a high speed rail system between northern and southern California with Phase I between San Francisco and Anaheim being completed by 2020 and total completion by 2030. Voters approved the “Safe, Reliable High Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century”, which appeared on the ballot in November 2008 as Proposition 1A and construction is anticipated to begin in 2010.

Green Building Strategy

  • Expand the use of green building practices and set Zero Net Energy goals for new and existing homes and commercial buildings. California Building Standards Commission adopted the voluntary Green Building Standards Code in July 2008 and anticipated adopting a mandatory code in 2011. CARB encourages local governments to raise the bar by adopting “beyond-code” green building requirements.

  • Recommend establishing an environmental performance rating system for homes and commercial buildings and that California adopt mechanisms to encourage and require retrofits for buildings that do not meet minimum standards of performance.
  • California will require all new State buildings to exceed existing Green Building Initiative energy goals and achieve nationally-recognized building sustainability standards and existing State buildings will be retrofitted to achieve higher standards.

High Global Warming Potential Gases

  • Adopt measures to reduce high global warming potential (“GWP”) gases, including an upstream mitigation fee on the use of high GWP gases to ensure the climate impact of these substances is reflected in the total cost of the product, encourage reduced use and end-of-life losses and development of alternatives.

Recycling and Waste

  • Reduce methane emissions at landfills, increase waste diversion, compositing and commercial recycling and move toward zero-waste.

Sustainable Forests

  • Use sustainable management practices, such as reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires and mitigation of land-use changes that reduce carbon storage to preserve forest sequestration.
  • Encourage the use of forest biomass for sustainable energy generation.


  • Reduce energy requirements associated with providing reliable water supplies, reduce the amount of non-renewable electricity associated with conveying and treating water and provide sustainable funding for both of these efforts, such as a public goods charge.


  • Encourage the capture of methane through manure digester systems at dairies on a voluntary basis and, at five-year Scoping Plan update, consider making the program mandatory.

Most of the measures in the Plan will be developed over the next two years and implemented through the full rulemaking process at CARB and other agencies. Some measures will be in place by January 1, 2010 and the rest are expected to be adopted by January 1, 2011 and become effective in early January 2012.

CARB will hold a Plan implementation workshop on January 29, 2009 in Sacramento.