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California to officially launch greenhouse gas system

  • FILE - In this April 30, 2008 file photo, American flags are seen near the Shell refinery, in Martinez, Calif. On Weds., Nov. 14, 2012, California’s largest greenhouse gas emitters will for the first time begin buying permits in a landmark “cap-and-trade” system meant to control emissions of heat-trapping gases and spur investment in clean technologies. The program is a key part of California’s 2006 climate-change law, AB32, a suite of regulations that dictate standards for cleaner-burning fuels, more efficient automobiles and increased use of renewable energy. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

SAN FRANCISCO — California's largest greenhouse gas emitters will begin buying permits in a landmark "cap-and-trade" system designed to control emissions of heat-trapping gases and to spur investment in clean technologies.

The program is the most wide-ranging of its kind in the nation and a key part of California's 2006 climate-change law that dictates standards for cleaner-burning fuels, more efficient automobiles, and increased use of renewable energy.

Under the plan, the California Air Resources Board will auction off pollution permits on Wednesday called "allowances" to more than 350 businesses, including electric companies, food processors and refineries.

In essence, the auction will put a price on carbon emissions.

The program also places a cap on emissions spewed by individual polluters. Businesses are required to either cut emissions to the cap levels or buy allowances from other companies for each metric ton of carbon discharged over the cap each year.


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