Oct 21, 2011

After years of discussion, court fights, ballot fights, extraordinary communications spin, false starts and scientific studies, California's air-quality enforcer has approved the nation's first economic system to limit greenhouse gases through the trading, selling and auctioning of carbon emission credits.


"From Julie Cart in the Los Angeles Times: "The complex market system for the first time puts a price on heat-trapping pollution by allowing California's dirtiest industries to trade carbon credits. The rules have been years in the making, overcoming legal challenges and an aggressiveoil industry-sponsored ballot initiative."

"The air board met in Sacramento for more than eight hours in a packed hearing room. Board members listened to sometimes scathing comments from union workers fearful of losing their jobs and a parade of industry representatives who likewise characterized the regulations as anti-business. Other speakers called the proposal historic and groundbreaking.

"Late in the day, as the eight board members voted to approve the regulations, to scattered applause, Chairman Mary Nichols looked up and said, "We've done something important."

"Cap-and-trade is a new tool that for the first time allows us to reward companies for doing the right thing," she added."


But the whole process is far from over: The next big step comes when the so-called emission credits or allowances actually get distributed, notes Craig Miller of KQED's Climate Watch.


"The next major milestone will come late next year, when the state begins meting out permits or “allowances” to release carbon dioxide into the air. At first, 90% of those permits will be given away but analysts have estimated that within a few years, at least half will be auctioned off at a price estimated by Thomson Reuters Point Carbon analytical service to be about $36 a ton."


"To most of us, that doesn’t mean much by itself, but for a refinery pumping out a few million tons a year (link to map), that adds up to some serious revenue for the state. How those “carbon dollars” will be spent is one aspect of the program that has yet to be worked out."


"Speakers representing business and other interests, including a large contingent from ConocoPhillips, which has four refineries in California, mounted an eleventh-hour appeal to the Board, to stretch out the compliance schedule. Lisa Bowman, who works in safety compliance at the company’s Carson and Wilmington refineries, told me she regards the state emissions fees that will be required as the biggest threat to her job in 22 years."


Some free-thinking atheists are not happy: Gov. Brown, who took Jesuit training as a young man, refused to sign a proclamation for the Sacramento Freethought Committee, unlike earlier governors.


From Jennifer Garza in the Sacramento Bee: "So at their annual celebration at McGeorge School of Law this Sunday, nonbelievers will display the proclamations that were signed. Next to them will be an empty frame, symbolizing the one they did not receive from Brown."


"We're very disappointed. This is a slap in the face," said David Diskin, organizer of the Sacramento Freethought Day. "He supports National Day of Prayer but not a day that celebrates separation of church and state."


"This is yet another example of how atheists are treated differently from the religious, Diskin said. He believes their proclamation was rejected because many of them are atheists."


With lackluster fundraising, among other things, Rep. Dennis Cardoza has decided to retire -- a surprise to the public but apparently not to friends and insiders with whom he has been discussing the possibility. Cardoza, a former Assemblyman, went to Congress to replace Gary Condit in 2003.


From the Fresno Bee's Michael Doyle: "Tellingly, Cardoza's fundraising slowed since July, and newly filed statements show his campaign treasury has only $62,471 available.

Last July, in another potentially telling move, Cardoza's longtime chief of staff Jennifer Walsh departed for a vice president's job with a health-care company. Walsh had worked for Cardoza since he first took office in January 2003, following his defeat of then-Rep. Gary Condit, D-Ceres."


"Cardoza is leaving the frustrations of a Congress where his fellow moderates have faltered and partisan zeal prevails."


"The constant focus on 'screamers' and the 'horse race' of elections is smothering useful discourse and meaningful debate of public policy," Cardoza said, adding that he was "disappointed by the broadcast media's general lack of attention to moderate members of Congress."

There are divisions among organized labor in the battle for the redrawn 44th Congressional District, where Rep. Laura Richardson has picked up backing from the Teamsters.  Up to now, Rep. Janice Hahn has enjoyed the lion's share of labor backing.

From the LAT's Jean Merl: "In the early battle for the new 44th Congressional District seat, Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach) has picked up support from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, her campaign announced this week. Until now, the lion’s share of labor endorsements have gone to Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro). 


"Hahn announced three more this week — Unite HERE, United Steel Workers  and  the Transportation Communications Union. Assemblyman Isadore Hall (D-Compton) also is running for the seat in this district, which includes the Los Angeles Harbor Area, Carson, South Gate, Compton, Lynwood, parts of Long Beach and Walnut Park."


"Labor support is likely to be an important factor in this largely working-class district. The district was drawn earlier this year to favor the election of an African American, but the citizens commission charged with creating the new political maps put Hahn’s home here after decimating the mainly coastal South Bay district she was elected to represent in a July special election."


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