Grand Experiment On Climate Change

Champions of California's historic move to fight global warming are celebrating. 

They are delighted with a landmark vote Thursday in Sacramento that sets up a trading system that industry must use for air pollution credit.

It's called "cap and trade", approved by the state Air Resources Board.  It's a novel barter system that's meant to reduce the state's dependence on fossil fuels.

But at what cost?  Business groups condemned the move as creating a new system of taxation at the expense of further slowing job creation.

Assemblyman Dan Logue (R-Linda), has been a consistent opponent of the state's campaign against greenhouse gases that kicked off in 2006 with then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature of AB 32.

"It is irresponsible that these unaccountable, unelected state bureaucrats went out of their way to wreck an economy that is already on life support," Logue said.

Logue is the same lawmaker, by the way, who unsuccessfully tried last year to get voters to kill AB 32.   By a wide marging, voters turned down the measure, Prop 23, which was heavily bankrolled by Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro.

The cap and trade system approved this week will heavily impact the state's oil refineries and cement plants.  They'll have to buy the ability to produce certain amounts of pollution. Those allowances could then be bought and sold by companies to meet air quality rules.  The industry says the result will be higher fuel prices that will damage the economy.

Sound complicated?  It is.  This kind of marketing system has never been attempted on this scale before in this country.  There are worries about market manipulation by unsavory traders.

The outcome of Thursday's vote was never in doubt.  The Air Resources Board has a history of such moves, tangling with Detroit automakers several years ago in passing tough tailpipe emission standards.

But for the state's biggest manufacturers, it means new uncertainty.

 Let us know what you think. Comment below, send us your thoughts via Twitter @PropZero or add your comment to our Facebook page.

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