More Greenhouse Gas Permits to Hit Auction

Chevron's refinery in Richmond, California, one of California's largest greenhouse gas emitters, on fire in August 2012 | Photo: Michael Moore/Flickr/Creative Commons License

The California Air Resources Board (CARB), which oversees the greenhouse gas allowances auction under the state's new Cap and Trade program, will be selling permits to emit greenhouse gases equivalent to 22.5 million tons of carbon dioxide in its second auction on February 19.

In its first auction in November, CARB sold the rights to emit more than 62 million tons of greenhouse gases.

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The announcement is the latest in a string of news items surrounding the groundbreaking cap and trade program, the most stringent in the United States. In mid-December, CARB announced that it had approved plans to work with Sacramento's American Carbon Registry and the Los Angeles-based Climate Action Reserve as assessors of carbon-offset programs that firms may use to comply with the Cap and Trade program. That came on the heels of an announcement that Quebec, which has a similar emissions auction program, will be tweaking its program to allow trading of emissions credits between Quebec and California.

California's emissions credits auction was established by AB 32, also known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. By state law, all major emitters of greenhouse gases in the state must have permits to emit those gases, with the number of available permits slowly declining over time. The auction currently covers power plants, oil refineries, and major industrial facilities. In 2015, fuel transport companies will also be included under the law.

The goal of the law is to provide a financial incentive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, both by making it more expensive to emit the gases and by providing the opportunity to sell your unused allowances. It also seeks to reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions to 427 million tons by 2020.

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