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California adopts first regulation to limit greenhouse gas emissions from fuel

April 23, 2009 |  6:48 pm

California took aim today at the oil industry and its effect on global warming, adopting the world’s first regulation to limit greenhouse gas emissions from the fuel that runs cars and trucks.

The state Air Resources Board voted 9-1 in favor of the complex new rule, which is expected to slash the state's gasoline consumption by a quarter in the next decade. It seeks to expand the market for electric and hydrogen-fueled vehicles and jump-start a host of technologies to replace corn-based ethanol as well as oil.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger praised the “first-in-the-world low-carbon fuel standard,” noting that 16 other states are looking to California as a model and that President Obama has called for a national standard. It will “not only reduce global warming,” he said, “it will reward innovation, expand consumer choice and encourage the private investment we need to transform our energy infrastructure.”

The regulation requires producers, refiners and importers of gasoline and diesel to reduce the carbon intensity of their fuel by 10% over the next decade. And it launches the state on an ambitious path toward ratcheting down its overall heat-trapping emissions by 80% by mid-century — a level that scientists deem necessary to avoid drastic disruption to the global climate.

-- Margot Roosevelt