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California debuts landmark cap-and-trade system

SAN FRANCISCO — California has begun auctioning permits for greenhouse gas emissions, launching what is expected to be the world's second-largest carbon market.

The California Air Resources Board says it began selling pollution "allowances" for the first time Wednesday as planned, in a closed, online auction.

The board says the results of the auction — what price was paid for a ton of carbon, and how many companies participated — will be released Nov. 19.

The cap-and-trade plan is a central piece of the state's 2006 global warming law, AB32, a suite of regulations meant to dramatically reduce the state's emissions of heat-trapping gases.

The auction occurred despite a last-minute lawsuit from the California Chamber of Commerce, which has argued the program should be invalidated as an illegal tax.


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