Tag Archives: Quebec

California governor orders aggressive greenhouse gas cuts by 2030

Repost from Reuters
[Editor:  See also local coverage in The Contra Costa Times.  – RS]

California governor orders aggressive greenhouse gas cuts by 2030

By Rory Carroll, Apr 29, 2015 11:28pm IST 
California Governor Jerry Brown looks on during a news conference at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California March 19, 2015. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
California Governor Jerry Brown looks on during a news conference at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California March 19, 2015. REUTERS/Max Whittaker

(Reuters) – California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order on Wednesday to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030, a move he said was necessary to combat the growing threat of climate change.

The targeted reduction was tied to 1990 levels and is “the most aggressive benchmark enacted by any government in North America to reduce dangerous carbon emissions,” Brown said in a statement.

California operates the nation’s largest carbon cap and trade system. The state sets an overall limit on carbon emissions and allows businesses to hand in tradeable permits to meet their obligations.

Achieving the new target will require reductions from sectors including industry, agriculture, energy and state and local governments, Brown said.

“I’ve set a very high bar, but it’s a bar we must meet,” Brown told a carbon market conference in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Brown said the new target will position California as a leader in combating climate change in the United States and internationally.

Brown said he has spoken to leaders in Oregon, Washington and Northeastern states about collaborating with California to cut their output of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Those states could potentially link to California’s carbon market in future years.

He said he has had similar discussions with leaders in the Canadian provinces of Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario, as well as in Germany, China and Mexico.

Quebec is already linked to the California market. Leaders in Ontario this month signaled their intention to join the program.

“This will be a local policy but it will be globally focused,” Brown told reporters on the sidelines of the conference.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the news and encouraged other states and cities around the world to also take action, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said.

“California’s bold commitment to tackling climate change is a strong example to states and regions all over the world that they can join their national governments in taking ownership of this critical issue and in showing leadership,” Haq said.

The plan for how California will achieve the 2030 target will be hammered out over the next year by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), which oversees the cap-and-trade program.

“With this bold action by the governor, California extends its leadership role and joins the community of states and nations that are committed to slash carbon pollution through 2030 and beyond,” said Mary Nichols, chair of the ARB.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles and Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Susan Heavey and David Gregorio)
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Ontario confirms it will join Quebec, California in carbon market

Repost from San Francisco Chronicle, SFGate

Ontario backs California’s carbon market

By David R. Baker, April 13, 2015 3:59 pm

Ontario plans to join California’s cap-and-trade market for reining in greenhouse gases and fighting climate change, the Canadian province’s premier, Kathleen Wynne, said Monday.

If the country’s most populous province follows through, it would greatly expand the size of the market, which California launched on its own in 2012. Quebec joined last year.

“Climate change needs to be fought around the globe, and it needs to be fought here in Canada and Ontario,” Wynne said.

Cap and trade puts a price on the greenhouse gas emissions that the vast majority of climate scientists agree are raising temperatures worldwide.

Companies in participating states and provinces must buy permits, called allowances, to pump carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the air. The number of permits available shrinks over time, reducing emissions. Companies that make deep cuts in their emissions can sell spare allowances to other businesses.        California officials always wanted other states and provinces to join the market. In 2008, six other states and four Canadian provinces (including Ontario and Quebec) agreed in principle to create a carbon market, one that could possibly expand to cover all of North America.

But one by one, California’s potential partners dropped out, and congressional efforts to create a national cap-and-trade system collapsed in 2010. California officials decided to go it alone.

Wynne gave few details Monday about Ontario’s effort. Instead, she signed an agreement with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard to   collaborate on crafting Ontario’s cap-and-trade regulations. For Ontario to join the market, officials with the California Air Resources Board would need to certify that the province’s cap-and-trade rules mesh with California’s. Gov. Jerry Brown would also have to approve.

Brown on Monday welcomed Wynne’s announcement.

“This is a bold move from the province of Ontario — and the challenge we face demands further action from other states and provinces around the world,” Brown said. “There’s a human cost to the billions of tons of carbon spewing into our atmosphere, and there must be a price on it.”

Much like California, Ontario has a significant clean-tech industry, estimated   to employ about 65,000 people.

While Quebec and now Ontario have pursued cap and trade, British Columbia chose another route to pricing greenhouse gas emissions. The province in 2008 established a carbon tax on fuels, using the revenue to cut other taxes.

Alberta, home to Canada’s controversial oil sands, also has a carbon   tax on large emitters, although critics consider it too limited and low to be effective. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee last year proposed a carbon tax on heavy emitters, only to meet with resistance from both political parties.

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OPINION: Governor DOES have authority to stop crude by rail

Repost from The Albany Times Union
[Editor:  Has anyone researched similar legal authority in California?  Under what jurisdictional authority would Governor Brown have power to stop crude oil trains, regardless of federal preemption?  – RS]

State’s next gamble is oil trains

By Christopher Amato and Charlene Benton, March 19, 2015

Having won approval for legalized casino gambling in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is now rolling the dice on oil trains. The string of oil train disasters over the last year and a half, including four derailments in the past month in West Virginia, Illinois and Ontario resulting in massive fires, explosions and air and water pollution, shows that transporting crude oil in unsafe rail cars poses a significant threat to New Yorkers’ lives and property and the state’s natural resources.

Indeed, the oil train report prepared at the governor’s direction by five state agencies and the scores of oil train safety violations detected by federal and state inspectors confirm the dangers of transporting oil in unsafe rail cars. Yet the governor refuses to use the state’s authority to end this hazardous practice. Instead, he claims — incorrectly — that only the federal government has the authority to protect New Yorkers from the dangers of oil trains.

The Environmental Conservation Law authorizes the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation to order the immediate discontinuance of any condition or activity that he finds “presents an imminent danger to the health or welfare of the people of the state or results in or is likely to result in irreversible or irreparable damage to natural resources.”

In 1990, then-DEC Commissioner Tom Jorling ordered several companies to halt the transportation of oil and sludge in unsafe barges. In that case, a federal appeals court ruled that federal law did not prevent the commissioner from exercising his emergency authority.

In October 2014, we submitted a petition to DEC on behalf of a broad coalition of community and environmental organizations requesting that Commissioner Joe Martens use his authority to prohibit the receipt and storage of crude oil in unsafe rail cars at the Albany oil terminals operated by Global Cos. and Buckeye Partners. Recently, DEC rejected the petition in a two-page letter, claiming that only the federal government can act to protect New Yorkers.

If, as the federal appeals court has held, federal law does not prevent the DEC commissioner from ordering an emergency halt to the transport of oil and sludge in unsafe barges, why can’t the commissioner order a halt to the receipt and storage of crude oil in unsafe rail cars? Given the high stakes, isn’t this course of action at least worth trying?

The Cuomo administration has repeatedly claimed that New York is the most aggressive state in the nation taking action on the threats posed by the rail transportation of highly volatile crude oil. But a recent news story reported that dangerous oil train shipments in New York have expanded on Cuomo’s watch, while other states like Washington are blocking crude-by-rail projects or requiring a full environmental, health and safety review of such projects.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that an average of 10 oil train derailments will occur each year for the next two decades, and predicts that a derailment in a populated area — such as Albany — could kill hundreds of people and result in billions of dollars in damages. It is time for the Cuomo administration to stop gambling that New York will escape the type of oil train catastrophe that has already occurred in Alabama, Virginia, North Dakota, West Virginia, Illinois, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Quebec. If the governor’s luck runs out, it may cost New Yorkers their lives.

Christopher Amato is an attorney at Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm. Charlene Benton is president of the Ezra Prentice Homes Tenants Association, which represents public housing tenants in Albany’s South End.

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