Legislative office questions viability of California’s emissions reduction plan

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

A government analyst is casting doubt on the California air board’s plan to achieve a legally required greenhouse gas emissions reduction target by 2030. [JD Supra]

State law requires California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, relative to 1990 levels. The California Air Resources Board is responsible for developing, implementing and updating a plan to achieve the reductions objective. The California Legislative Analyst’s Office is required to provide an independent assessment of each plan.

The air board recently revised its emissions reductions plan. The air board claims implementation of the new plan will result in a 48% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, exceeding the 40 percent requirement.

However, the state analyst argues the air board failed to specify policy options, alternatives and cost-benefit analyses for reaching critical milestone reduction targets. The state analyst also says the air board’s plan relies on unrealistic assumptions related to vehicles miles traveled; carbon capture and sequestration; and building electrification.

The state analyst is calling for the state Legislature to consider changes to California’s cap-and-trade program to address concerns about it allegedly being too lenient. The state analyst is offering proposals including potentially reducing the supply of emission allowances issued in the future, limiting the use of offsets and extending the program beyond 2030.

Critics of the state analyst’s response to the air board’s latest plan argue that entangling the program in legislative bureaucracy will make meeting the looming 2030 deadline less attainable.