Friday, February 12, 2010

Senator Pavley Wrong on AB 32 Timing

Senator Fran Pavley, of the California Senate, is absolutely wrong when she recently stated in a newspaper Opinion to the Editor that AB 32 does not go into effect until 2012. Her exact words were, ". . . new emission reductions don’t even begin until 2012. . ." This is not true, and the Senator should know this. One can only wonder why the Senator would make such an untrue statement in public, one that is so very easily verifiable.

Lest I be accused of decontextualizing her statement, or taking it out of context so as to impart a meaning different from what the Senator intended, here is the paragraph from her recent Op-Ed with the key phrase in bold [my emphasis]:

"When AB 32, California’s landmark global warming law, was being debated in the legislature, a coalition of polluters and their misguided allies opposed the bill. This week these same opponents, who have also fought against clean air and water quality laws, are unveiling an initiative to suspend AB 32, predicting the sky will fall if the law is implemented. They predict that thousands of Californians would lose their jobs, and it will crush small businesses. There are even blaming the current loss of jobs on AB 32, but new emission reductions don’t even begin until 2012, and then are gradually phased in by 2020."

I wrote a response to the Senator's Op-Ed on my blog here. This article supplements that response, with factual statements showing several portions of AB 32 are already in effect, and already causing great harm to California and Californians. These items under AB 32 include Early Action Items, and at least two more that are in the process of enactment in order to meet hard deadlines (the GHG reporting measure, and Renewable Portfolio Standard. More on those two below.)

There are several pieces of AB 32, in fact, the Scoping Plan identified 73 separate items. The scope and depth of AB 32 is absolutely unprecedented in the manner in which all aspects of economic activity in California will be (and already is) impacted. This is extremely serious, especially in a state where unemployment is at or near an all-time high as a percent of the workforce, and exceeds all previous highs in terms of the sheer number of workers who are unemployed. Unemployment greatly adds to the state's budget deficit, both by taking state money as unemployment compensation, and reducing state tax receipts from payroll taxes. AB 32's specific measures further add to the economic woes by imposing additional burdens to businesses, which are passed on to consumers as higher prices. AB 32 is not a way to success.

ARB classifies the portions of AB 32 that are already in effect, or will be before 2012, as Early Action Items. The list of Discrete Early Action Items (as of Feb. 12, 2010) includes (see this link):

To discuss in a bit more detail just a few of those items, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard goes into effect January 1, 2011. LCFS requires great amounts of imported biofuels (ethanol, for example) in transportation fuels (gasoline and diesel). One does not simply start a new regulation of this magnitude overnight, instead, there are substantial efforts already underway to have everything in place to meet the January 1, 2011 deadline. Costs to the public are already occurring as industries pass on their added costs to their customers.

Quoting from the LCFS regulation: "The provisions and requirements in section 95484(c), (d) and (e) apply starting January 1, 2010. [note, c, d, and e all refer to exemptions] All other provisions and requirements of the LCFS regulation apply starting January 1, 2011." [emphasis added]

From ARB's own website, the following may be found showing the SF6 measure's timing:

Sulfur hexafluoride is a potent greenhouse gas, with a global warming potential (GWP) of 23,900, the highest identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. On October 25, 2007, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) approved sulfur hexafluoride reductions from non-electric and non-semiconductor applications as an early action measure . Accordingly, ARB staff developed a measure to reduce sulfur hexafluoride emissions from other uses including magnesium die-casting, fume vent hood testing, tracer gas use, and other niche uses. Sulfur hexafluoride emissions from semiconductor manufacture and electric utilities are being examined separately. ARB approved the regulation to reduce sulfur hexafluoride emissions in February 2009.

On January 1, 2010, the regulation became effective. Restrictions on use and sale occur on or after January 1, 2011. Registration, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements become effective March 30, 2010.[emphasis in the original]

The Heavy Duty measure refers to heavy trucks, such as 18-wheelers and their cargo trailers. This requires trucks to install more aerodynamic skirts and other features to reduce the wind resistance and therefore use less diesel fuel. The measure became effective on January 1, 2010.

The Tire Pressure regulation is in effect as of July1, 2010. The tire pressure regulation is supposed to reduce gasoline consumption, and the CO2 emissions from cars, by requiring tire pressures to be checked and adjusted at most tire and car repair centers. This is what then-candidate Obama referred to (and was widely ridiculed for) as solving our imported oil problem by adding air to America's tires.

In addition to the Early Action Measures, the major sources of CO2 and other GHGs, such as refineries and power plants, have been required to measure and report their GHG emissions since January 1, 2009. State-mandated auditing of those major sources' GHG reports starts in April, 2010.

The most telling part of AB 32 is the RPS, or Renewable Portfolio Standard. RPS requires all electricity sold in the state to meet minimum percentages of renewable generation. By New Year's Eve, 2010 (only 10 months away), the RPS requires 20 percent of all power sold must be from renewable energy sources. There is a frantic effort to build such systems, with the costs being passed along to consumers. This effort is underway now, and has been for a few years, as power producers install wind, solar, and geothermal power plants in an attempt to meet the deadline of 12/31/2010. Happy New Year.

Clearly, the Senator is wrong in writing that AB 32 does not even begin until 2012. Perhaps the Senator is woefully misinformed. Perhaps she is not.

The Senator is clearly part of the orchestrated effort to discredit the ballot initiative for the November, 2010 election, which will place a hold, or moratorium, on all AB 32 measures until California's economy improves to where it might, just might, withstand the economic devastation that will result from AB 32.

For those who want to verify any of the statements in this article, or just want to learn more about AB 32 and the timing of the individual 73 items, please see this link, and the Measure Plan Timeline.

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California

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