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Fighting Friction in Washington, CA Leaders Clear Emissions Bill

By Felicity Barringer


California’s political leaders announced an agreement on Wednesday that imposes the most sweeping controls on carbon-dioxide emissions in the nation, putting the state at the forefront of a broad campaign to curb the man-made causes of climate change despite resistance in Washington.

The deal between the Democratic-controlled Legislature and the Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, calls for a 25 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020, and could establish controls on the largest industrial sectors, from utilities to oil refineries to cement plants. The state has already placed strict limits on automobile emissions, although that is being challenged in federal court.

The Bush administration has rejected the idea of similar national controls on carbon-dioxide emissions, and efforts to get congressional approval for such firm caps on emissions have repeatedly been defeated.

Although the deal in California is strongly opposed by Republicans in the Legislature and many business leaders across the state, it assures a bill on the restrictions will be passed before the legislative session ends Thursday and will be signed by Schwarzenegger, the leaders said Wednesday.

The first major controls are scheduled to begin in 2012, with the aim of reducing the emissions to their level in 1990. The legislation allows for incentives to businesses to help reach the goals, but opponents warn that the state may be sacrificing its economic interests for a quixotic goal.

“If our manufacturers leave, whether for North Carolina or China, and they take their greenhouse gases with them, we might not have solved the problem but exacerbated it instead,” said Allan Zaremberg, president of the state Chamber of Commerce, which led opposition to the measure.

Since taking office in 2003, Schwarzenegger, who is seeking re-election in November, has championed efforts to fight climate change, most recently by signing an agreement with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain to do cooperative research on new clean energy technologies.

In his statement on Wednesday, the governor said the deal struck with the Democratic leaders will make “California a world leader in the effort to reduce carbon emissions.”