California Now First State to Charge Polluters for Greenhouse Gas Emissions


Photo via Now Public

It no longer pays to pollute in California. The state, which passed ambitious climate change legislation in 2006 to reduce greenhouse gases by 25% by 2020, has launched a fee on its most polluting companies--15 cents for each ton of CO2 they emit. The fee is expected to bring in $63 million each year for the next 3 years, after which it will drop to 9 cents per ton. The revenue will help the state pay for the administrative costs of implementing the climate legislation, which includes a cap and trade system for the state. The cap and trade is set to go into effect in 2012.

The fee will hit 380 of California's heaviest polluting companies--those that "produce, distribute, refine or use natural gas, coal, electricity, crude or distillates," according to Green Inc. These companies alone are responsible for 85% of the state's greenhouse gas emissions.

Green Inc reports that the fee was modeled after a successful program launched in San Francisco:

The state's move comes on the heels of a similar fee passed last year by San Francisco-area pollution watchdogs. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District, a public agency that regulates air pollution in the nine counties surrounding San Francisco Bay, imposed a fee of 4.4 cents per metric ton on area businesses that emit greenhouse gases.
That fee raised $1.3 million.

The ball's rolling in California--which as long been a pioneer in green policy, from clean air standards to energy efficiency initiatives. As a climate bill draws ever closer to getting the votes it needs to pass in the US Senate, green eyes are on California while it rolls out its new emissions law--so far, so good.

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