Governor signs warming bill

Law would seek 25 percent reduction in California’s greenhouse gas emissions

Using the San Francisco skyline as a backdrop, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Wednesday that California was leading the way on “one of the most important issues facing our time, the fight against global warming,” as he signed into law an ambitious plan to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The law, Assembly bill 32, seeks to establish regulations, as well as market incentives, to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases 25 percent by 2020.

The elaborately staged signing ceremony at Treasure Island was called a “historic” moment by Schwarzenegger as well as almost every attending dignitary, including Mayor Gavin Newsom, who predicted California would lead the world in its effort to combat global warming. British Prime Minister Tony Blair offered his congratulations via video link.

The law will create statewide caps, beginning in 2012, on harmful industrial emissions. California is the 12th largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, due to its size and industry. Many scientists say they believe that such emissions are contributing to global warming.

Many of the state’s business leaders, meanwhile, have criticized the new law, warning that it will increase their costs and make it more difficult for them to do business in California.

Climate impacts scientist Amy Lyn Luers, with the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists, said because California “is a major player in terms of [emissions] contributions, it’s our duty to take action.”

Many of the details of the law have yet to be worked out. The California Air Resources Board will be given the responsibility to develop and implement the regulations and market incentives necessary to achieve the ambitious emission-reduction targets. One of the key mechanisms will be a program that allows businesses to buy, sell and trade emission credits with other companies.

Schwarzenegger predicted the law would also make the state a leader in a “green tech industry that creates jobs, sparks new cutting-edge technology and is a model for the restof the world.”

The new law is the result of a landmark deal brokered last month between the governor and the Democrat-controlled Legislature. Schwarzenegger’s signature Wednesday provided him with important environmental bragging rights as he heads toward the election this November. Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial opponent, state Treasurer Phil Angelides, has also voiced support for the law.

“I think it’s wrong to label this a Democratic or Republican issue,” Schwarzenegger said after the ceremony. “To protect the environment, to fight global warming, to produce vehicles that are more energy-efficient, to produce and create technology that cuts down on all the various gas emissions, that benefits both parties.”

Asked whether his efforts against global warming meant that he was also ready to trade his gas-guzzling Hummer for a fuel-efficient hybrid vehicle, Schwarzenegger said he didn’t have to, since the manufacturer made him a custom Hummer with a hydrogen fuel engine and another that uses bio-fuel.

beslinger@examiner.comCaliforniaCalifornia NewsLocal

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