Friday, April 25, 2008

Governors rally against dirty Bush ploy...and what's up with coal in California?

Twelve governors (California, Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington) have to congressional leaders and the President, protesting the disgusting move this week by the federal Department of Transportation, which is seeking to preempt these and other states from enforcing greenhouse gas standards for motor vehicles.

As the letters note, the Bush administration once again is making a cynical attempt to re-write the Clean Air Act and to take away a fundamental states’ right.


This issue, of course, involves the ongoing conspiracy between the Bush White House and the car industry to kill the California car standards. But another interesting greenhouse gas drama is starting to play out in California – and it could have a ripple effect on Congress.

In that case, the issue is how to reduce electric power emissions in California. (There was an excellent piece the other day in the LA Times,1,5436248,full.story )

Little known to many of us, a lot of the power sold in California actually comes from coal. As the Times put it “some taxpayer-owned utilities, such as Los Angeles' Department of Water and Power, get close to half their electricity from the nation's dirtiest energy source: coal.”

And – as at the federal level – there is an interesting battle in California to determine how to apportion carbon pollution permits, or allowances. In this case, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power sounds like Duke Energy or American Electric Power: it is arguing that carbon permits should be given out based on historic pollution levels! This position, of course, is directly against the position that California officials presented to Senate leaders last fall, as they argued that emission permits should be auctioned off rather than given away to the biggest polluters. California put it very eloquently in that paper: “free distribution based solely on historical emissions will only serve to reward the biggest polluters at the expense of consumers.”

Keep your eye on this debate. If California caves in to political pressure from the coal-happy crowd, it could have a real influence on the congressional debate.

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