California’s pollution control measures are under scrutiny for inadvertently damaging the state’s ecosystem.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and his administration went back to the drawing board for their proposed cap-and-trade program. The revision came after widespread criticism of environmental offsets and allowances warned the program could do more harm than good in the Golden State.
“They’ve literally saved more allowances than the cuts they’re expected to make, … so the worst case scenario is that they [polluting companies] don’t have to change very much; in fact, they might not have to change anything at all,” CarbonPlan Policy Director Danny Cullenward said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Cullenward—a lawyer and climate economist—is very concerned about various faults in the offset program and allowances that are too cheap. This combination could theoretically let wealthier companies pay their way out of meeting emissions reduction obligations.
Each allowance credit lets companies emit one metric ton of carbon dioxide–about the same a passenger car emits after driving 2,500 miles or from the City of Angels to Orlando, Florida.
However, some companies have bought and saved a combined 321 million allowances, which is enough for many of them to keep operating without significantly reducing emission levels.
The state Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shares these concerns and does not believe the program is helping to meet 2030 targets.
“The scoping plan may show that as a proportion of total reductions, the cap and trade does not need to play such a major role in our toolbox going forward,” EPA secretary Jared Blumenthal said, according to the paper.
The California Air Resources Board and Newsom administration will gather more data to reassess the program before deciding what to do with it. Amendments could be completed sometime in 2024.