Thursday, July 31, 2008

western climate initiative

a lot of the talk at yesterday's EJAC meeting was regarding the western climate initiative (WCI). committee members expressed concern at being left out of the process--apparently july 29 was the last stakeholder meeting to discuss the policy. it was met with protests. the protesters concerns are not new, and all concern cap and trade. (i'm just going to take from the signonsandiego article. group is in bold, concern follows.)
  1. environmental leaders: undermine california's efforts by allowing purchases of allowances/credits elsewhere, thus deferring a low-carbon transition at home.
  2. labor officials: would encourage industry to leave california in favor of areas with fewer rules.
  3. several critics: said the system would be open to manipulation and gaming.
the response: "Leaders of the Western Climate Initiative said they will take yesterday's comments into consideration as they craft a final plan for release in September."

hm. so, california comes out with this great plan, lots of (sort of) accountability. EJ provisions, public health provisions. a truly major environmental public works project. but now they latch on to the WCI and suddenly it becomes another nafta superhighway. what the hell is going on? shouldn't these protests and the EJAC meeting be cluing in the WCI leaders that they need more transparency, not less? if they stopped acting like corporate pigs, they could realize that a properly designed cap and trade system could address all concerns. but instead they're shrouding themselves in secrecy. i suggest to the WCI stakeholders that this is not a winning strategy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

liveblogging the EJAC meeting

so, let's see how this goes...check out the meeting agenda/details/stream at the following locations:

(all times in CDT)

12h14: still no activity on the stream...guess they're running late.

12h22: explicit targeting of blackberrys for a turn off! sick.

12h27: kevin kennedy and edie chang from CARB presenting.

12h42: CARB - VMT reductions necessary to meet 2050 goal. interesting.

12h54: $2b in public health benefits, $30 savings/month in transport costs. okay.

13h11: here we go. some conflict is evident between the EJAC and their feelings about the WCI. i think they feel marginalized in the process. (i can't mention names since they're not showing them...i think the woman speaking is named james.)

13h15: argh. confusing. notes to self: WCI stakeholder meeting was yesterday apparently the last one was yesterday. EJAC has no position yet on WCI. some NOx ruling at the federal (?) level is peripherally related?

big issue: EJ protections not on the radar elsewhere, only in CA. this seems to be the biggest deal. EJAC co-chair: "we will whine bitch, moan, complain, and sue you if necessary."

concerned about EJ committees/first nations internationally. concerned about CDM and human rights violations. lots of problems with the international markets. this is really good stuff.
the EPA dude (matt?) is getting completely dominated by the co-chair.

13h23: traditional EJ rejections to CnT. although he's right that everything should be on the table for AB32 implementation, but that they're jumping the gun on the WCI etc.

13h27: claim that acid rain lessons do not apply or that the acid rain program was somehow not a successful. don't agree.

13h28: WCI concerns being aired. no public process, planning happening on a regional level, not local. no public process in other states. only being attended by elected officials with no feedback. draft scoping plan (DSP) is too vague. "what does this mean to us?"

13h32: more EJ concerns: too many transactions happening. WCI again - no participation. response from matt: claiming that public participation has to happen because it's mandated by AB32, but i don't think he knows what he just promised (monitored transactions).

13h34: matt just keeps hitting back on AB32 and its provisions. seems like a cop out. although jose's comment wasn't very coherent. i'm getting the feeling that the EJAC has really internalized the declaration against carbon trading.

13h40: from the chair: more declaration stuff, more issues about the transactions occurring in the marketplace. you CANNOT monitor each transaction, it would also have to happen under a tax or regulation. very much an international focus with the EJAC. concerns about prosecuting abroad.

13h41: luke, assn of irritated citizens. encorcement, enforcability. "weaseling out" of ag enforcement mechanisms...? redoing SIPs around ag enforcement. (this is more than one sentence.)

13h42: martha, not a good track record of enforcement. (seems like monitoring as well.) how to deal with monitoring. goldstein replies that the regulatory processes will get into the minutiae of enforcement, etc.

13h49: chair, ARB at the place where a trading program is happening. not the place where EJAC and communities are. trading program cannot work to serve the interests of the communities she represents. she thinks that nothing can be done with a trading program to make it work/be good. it's amazing that the two chairs are women and one is a woman of color. i wish i could say more on that.

13h52: amy kyle, ucb public health. research on cumulative impacts and policy approaches. suggestions on how to think about policy mandates DSP. dealing with climate change not just a pollution issue. fine. but the answer is not necessarily new technology. (fine, it's more important than control, since you can't control GHGs like pollution). how about thinking about consumption as opposed to a technological panacea? i disagree that CnT for acid rain is fundamentally different than for carbon.

14h01: benefit leakage has not been analyzed. positive aspects of climate change policy could be shared. and...the sound cut out.

14h10: sound back. that was very frustrating. comments and q's for dr. kyle.

14h12: interesting that most of the other academic-types that had previously commented on the process/plans have been engineers/economists. interesting that we've got a public health professional talking to the EJAC.

request from luke for concrete recommendations to the board...and sound cut out again.

14h17: hm. sound cutting out could possibly have been my fault...back now.

14h18: i gather that dr. kyle's talk included the notion of including other metrics alongside GHG emissions. this was kind of talked about in kaswan's article as well. i think it's a good idea.

14h21: concern that public health has not been focused on to the same extent as econ impacts or emissions reductions. i would argue that this is not the mandate of AB32. public comment period now beginning for folks in the audience.

14h22: alternate for small business for california on the ETAC, talking about providing some incentives for energy efficiency. wants to use energy efficiency for offsets. it's really hard to measure gains from energy efficiency, though. see alan meier.

14h28: peggy hock, united solar. haha, she's definitely hawking her company's project. CSI program provides a base? we're looking for cuts below? i have no idea what's going on. i think she's addressing the wrong committee. distributed generation, the voluntary market is not covered? most people are not looking at AB32? we all want to include renewables? but if you look at how it's being implemented, the entire voluntary market is being left out? include distributed generation in the cap and trade market. she totally wasn't listening to the earlier part of the conversation? this is kind of hilarious.

sitting at the electricity cafe. all want to lower our bill. all utilities, dairies, car manufacturers, lots of people ordering way too much stuff. a bunch of people just ate salad. the bill was lowered. everyone pays the same. first sellers only have to turn in their receipts. this really has nothing to do with EJ. okay, i think what she's saying is that industry is not going to get credit for installing PV or wind, only what's going to come out of the smokestack.

jane is responding well. DG, renewables important. getting the folks at the table.

14h38: jean costa sierra club...oh god. problem with "granting pollution rights." ok, ok, she's legit. two pubs: carbon trading - a critical conversation on climate change, privitization, and power), sweden, 2006..lohmann et al. (apparently available free online!) stop using fossil fuels, stop using the atmosphere as a sink. global forest coalition, global justice ecology project "true cost of agro fuels" full costs.

14h45: tom bonn, offroad vehicle sierra club. no more free pass for offroad vehicles. i'm not sure how this is relevant either. are these folks not aware that they're adressing the EJ committee? srsly.

14h50: lunch.

15h29: meeting should be starting back up pretty soon, but i just had a thought. i got the feeling that the EJAC wants to have concrete recommendations to give to CARB. why don't they try to look at giving recommendations for the cap and trade programming instead of stonewalling it? absolutely all of the EJ objections can be dealt with with proper design. we then have appropriate penalties in place and let the market work. fortunately i have a piece that outlines just what they should recommend...

15h53: comments on specific reduction measures.

15h57: (ah, CARB guy was james goldstein), luke volunteers to do some analysis on methane lagoons in the SJV.

16h03: sound down again, sigh. re-entered with some discussion on reusing manure from the dairies as fertilizer.

16h15: questions on energy efficiency, energy in general, CCS. nothing too crazy.

16h20: LCFS time. tom (?), build 30-60 corn ethanol plants in CA. this dude is really upset. and now the video is choppy. (SIGH!!) okay, way anti-corn ethanol opinion. "state alternative fuels plan", not sure what this is. these are all plans. LCFS is a regulation. no one thought CE was a panacea at the time. delucchi (was on the team that) wrote the LCFS and i'm sure he noted all of the uncertainties.

16h24: kevin from CARB: trading and regs not incompatible. good point.

16h25: question from chair on "flexibility" is it equal to trading? confusion on how to allocate reductions to certain measures. for transport they applied pavely, then took 10 percent more to get the LCFS reduction. clarification on the flexibility inherent in the LCFS, letting all refiners trade to get the 10 percent. trading between LCFS and CnT undefined.

16h29: interesting reaction by the chair to the response. something about the regs being too complex...interesting point, "why not just make gas $4.50/gal?" why not $9/gal? she says, "did i mention i'm in favor of a carbon fee?"

16h31: comments from jose and the EHC guy about increasing use of electricity having to come from renewables (and the SOUND IS OUT AGAIN!!!! these last few times have definitely not been my fault.)

16h34: discussion on the diesel risk reduction plan. no idea how this came to be discussed. (sigh, again.)

16h37: goods movement. tom, waste should be considered also as a goods movement commodity. (sludge moving to kern county, manure to kern county, hazardous ash to kern county, municipal solid waste to avenol (?) ) . okay. let's reduce consumption as opposed to "treating at the source." (i'm a broken record.)

16h40: more skepticism about using forests as sinks. this is good. can't regulate acts of god! true. apparently CARB is hoping to do some rigorous monitoring to meet the 5 MT of forest sequestration they've got in 2020. reaction from the committee is that you can't predict these weird things that'll happen. (freezes, lightning strikes, etc.) also people live in the forests and we can't kick them out to maintain them.

16h48: refineries. phil, exclude all refineries from trading and offset purchases, regulate technology at the same facilities. ah, include reduced demand for refinery product. apparently this isn't in the appendices (they must assume constant or growing demand for refined product). jessie wants to include fuel storage tank facilities for VOC regulation. eliminate flared emissions. drilling proposals now on the map for wilmington, 1000 new wells in LA county. all of the abandoned or orphaned oil wells have not been accounted for in the scoping plan.

16h56: land use, local gov't actions, and regional targets. 8 new etoh plants in the SJV. land use cuts both ways. leo (EHC), wants all cities and localities to set their own targets based on what they have rather than waiting for them to come forward. require targets and work with them to set them. a brand new high-density development on a greenfield is not smart growth. right on, leo. involve ports. especially the UPSD, for example.

17h10: leo- energy is a land use issue. i'm not sure exactly what he means. (CARB has assured me that the meeting will be available on their archive at a future date...might have to review.) biggest idea is that without regional/city targets, we won't make the statewide cap.

17h13: water. ag is strikingly absent from the water discussion. not enough to push efforts forward. concern about dam construction, EJAC wants to make sure it's not on the table.

17h17: wondering about 10^6 solar roofs, and high speed rail. where did the numbers come from (2, 1, respectively). much less than the 5 MT expected from forests. could be double counting gains from the roofs if they're in the RPS also.

17h22: a level of squishiness with all the measures. some seem to be uncertain at best, others already happening. sustainable forests, pavley. interesting to note that the DSP has one number that will be the reductions (no error bar). proposal for backup reductions. LCFS fails, forests fail, chair is concerned that then more stuff will go into the trading part. (this wouldn't be a problem, and in fact would be a good back up plan). i don't think it would be necessary to have a complete suite back up measures ... CARB says they'll hit harder on other measures, and keep their ear to the ground on new approaches. a contingency plan sounds like a good idea, though. just start retiring some coal fired power plants or something...

17h29: kevin says that there's some discussion about setting the cap much lower as a contingency. he says rightly that CnT provides the contingency if it's properly designed.

17h31: CnT.

"Everyone knows that we are anti-cap and trade."

chair wants recommendations on how to formulate suggestions on the DSP.

what if the CnT doesn't work is the question...what if another approach doesn't work??? what if nothing works? geez. the EJAC is being kind of condescending wrt CnT. mention of the easter bunny was not that cool.

"strong and well-evidenced body of knowledge that says this trading will not work." what body of evidence is this? everything can be done without CnT...that's not true. this is completely absurd. CnT has not been documented to not work, around the globe. ugh. she wants to segregate CnT in the plan. i think this is already done? right, and this is what kevin is saying.

it just occurred to me that it's unfortunate that the EJAC is super biased on this issue and not approaching the discussion in good faith. there is no simple solution that will cost 1.5 times more than CnT.

what the chair is saying now is reasonable. namely that there should be a stronger emphasis on scenario analysis. kevin is saying that this is what's going to be in the "Economic supplement." but probably that document will probably have the conclusion written first.

co-chair arguing for carbon fee, saying that it gives certainty. i mean, it provides certainty wrt the price of carbon, but not wrt reductions.

interesting that no one is talking about a carbon tax, but a carbon "fee."

17h55: okay, i'm losing concentration. apparently the webcast is going down in 5 minutes but the meeting will continue. i suppose if there's one thing i'm surprised at is the skepticism of the EJAC towards carbon trading. it is economically equivalent to a tax, but you don't have to say "tax." this is its virtue. surely they understand this? they didn't get back to the public health kind of stuff. i'll be following this closely...

18h00: hm, okay, one thing they're now discussing is some kind of over allocation initially, i'm not exactly sure what this is about. woo, apparently people already on the webcast can stay!

18h03: andrea cook, some kind of sustainable energy center. question to jane about getting good offsets. how to do it? many of the members do not support voluntary offsets at all. lesson is that offsets are really sketchy. agree.

18h08: cynthia babbage, lots of stuff about her community impacts. she's really upset with the entire notion of trading, there wasn't much sense there.

18h14: lisa ojos. question about taking out refineries because we don't want to take a chance. california has a unique opportunity to lead in terms of all their great regs, not just CnT. good one kevin, citing the global momentum towards CnT, citing California's effort as trying to get the state's take on CnT taking all of the EJAC concerns into account. What does an EJ-friendly CnT look like, in other words. rather than picking another policy instrument.

does CA support an 80/20 regs/CnT split for the other WCI partners? kevin says the other states may not have the same policy infrastructure.

jane asks about the uncertainty at the federal level relating to CnT, cites mitch mcconnell (senator from kentucky?) saying we'll never have a CnT program.

18h32: it's over?

i think the most important thing i learned is that the declaration does reflect the majority (entire) view of the EJAC. they appear to be completely unwilling to work with CARB on any aspect of CnT. i'm not sure how this is going to play out in the end (a lawsuit if CnT proceeds?). i've said it before, and i've said it again. detaching from helping to design the mundane details of the CnT represents a grievous error on the part of the EJ folks. the disdain they seemed to hold for CARB was also surprisingly (maybe it wasn't towards CARB only). i feel like CARB is on their side in terms of wanting to get firm reductions and wanting to protect public health, and they've done this in the past through firm regs. shouldn't the EJ folks be giving them the benefit of the doubt? they've been one of the few agencies consistently on their side...