Advocacy at the California Air Resources Board (CARB)

Part 3 CA State Code

California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) requires close collaboration by the Air Resources Board, Public Utilities Commission, Energy Commission, and Independent System Operator to plan and implement the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in California back to 1990 levels by 2020. To help guide this process, CEERT developed a forecast of what success in this effort might look like in our “2020 Vision” analysis. We also sponsored a symposium of some of the world’s leading climate scientists on how to improve on the climate targets in the Kyoto protocols.

Recent Developments:

V. John White and Liz Anthony met several times with CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey and other senior staff to discuss emissions from natural gas power plants, especially the increasing emissions from some of these plants in disadvantaged communities.  We discussed the new air pollution monitoring requirements in disadvantaged communities required by AB 617 (C. Garcia), the gas power plant data base that Liz Anthony is developing, and our initial thoughts about how to regulate gas plants in disadvantaged communities by having local air districts limit their output at times of high pollution.

We also discussed the issues and problems with the CPUC’s modeling in the Integrated Resource Planning proceeding.  We talked about CPUC staff’s errors and attitude problems, e.g., their wanting to delay any near-term GHG emission reductions for nearly 10 years, and their disregard of the statutory direction in SB 350 to develop a balanced renewable portfolio as a means of achieving GHG reductions.  We also discussed the CPUC’s failure in the Diablo Canyon power plant closure decision to make any effort to ensure there would be no increase in GHG emissions from the retirement of the plant and the loss of 17,000 MW of zero-carbon electricity, and the effect that would have on achieving California’s climate targets.

We talked about the results of the analysis CEERT has done on the role of imports and resource adequacy, the potential of large-scale hydro storage to help reduce natural gas emissions resulting from meeting the evening ramp, and the need to pursue better transparency and real-time reporting of GHG emissions from the electric system.

Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs)

While CARB’s March 23 adoption of the Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) Reduction Strategy can be viewed as just the beginning of the beginning in the state’s efforts to reduce these super-pollutants, CEERT considers the adoption of the Reduction Strategy as the culmination of our more than decade-long leadership in advocating for the state to adopt and implement such a strategy. CEERT advised Senator Ricardo Lara on SB 605, which directed CARB, other agencies, and regional air districts to develop the Reduction Strategy, and the subsequent SB 1383, which codified the 2030 SLCP emissions reductions targets and required state agencies to implement the Reduction Strategy.

Methane Emissions
California has begun moving forward with implementing the strategy to address methane emissions. The state’s target is a 40% reduction of methane from 2013 levels by 2030. Dairies account for 45% of the state’s methane emissions, followed by landfills at 20% and other livestock emissions at 10%.

CalRecycle (formerly the California Integrated Waste Management Board) is holding a series of consultative workshops throughout the state before issuing draft regulations in the fall on how the solid-waste industry could reduce landfill methane by a 50% reduction in statewide disposal of organic waste from 2014 levels by 2020, and a 75% reduction by 2025. CalRecycle will then hold a further series of workshops to refine the draft regulations before a formal phase of rulemaking in late 2017 or early 2018, with adoption of the regulations in late 2018 or early 2019. CEERT will continue to work closely with our colleagues at Californians Against Waste to help ensure that the state can achieve or exceed its 2025 goal.

CARB, the CPUC, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the California Energy Commission have established a Dairy/Livestock Working Group (DLWG) of diverse stakeholders that will help the agencies address technical, market, regulatory, and other challenges and barriers to methane reduction projects involving dairies and livestock. CEERT is participating in the DLWG through its subgroups that focus on Fostering Markets for Digester Projects; Fostering Markets for Non-Digester Projects; and Identifying Research Needs. DLWG will produce draft reports on each of these areas by late 2017, with final reports due in 2018.

Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) Emissions
While CARB is to achieve a 40% reduction in the use of HFC refrigerants (the fastest growing source of GHGs) by 2030, it will need to conduct more research to identify the most commercially and economically feasible approaches to reducing their use. CARB plans to release an initial assessment report on HFCs for public, scientific, and stakeholder review later in 2017.

CEERT will work with our NGO colleagues and the agencies on further reducing HFC emissions in a manner similar to the automotive sector, which will eliminate the use of high-GWP (global warming potential) HFCs in all new passenger vehicles in the U.S. and replace them with low-GWP refrigerants by 2021. (The EU will replace HFCs in cars by the end of this year, and Japan by 2024.) We also plan to highlight the potential of natural refrigerants, and will note that all consideration of refrigerants must take into account the full lifecycle climate impacts of their production and use.

Black Carbon Emissions
California has had tremendous success in reducing the emissions of black carbon (BC) from anthropogenic (non-forest) sources, and CEERT’s advocacy continues to push state policies and regulations that enable these reductions. However, the most challenging source of BC emissions is from non-anthropogenic sources such as wildfires. At the same time, the state is losing power plants that can generate renewable electricity from biomass: in the early 1990s California had 66 biomass power plants, but today only 34 such plants are operating.

CEERT will continue our work with state agencies and other stakeholders on the continued reduction of BC emissions from anthropogenic sources (e.g., our leading advocacy on particulate emissions trends from the use of Gasoline Direct Injection engines) , and redouble our efforts on reducing BC emissions from agricultural and forest biomass while at the same time increasing the value added that could come from using biomass resources to produce power or other bio-based products.

CEERT serves as Technical Lead for California and national NGOs in negotiations with automobile manufacturers and regulators like CARB on establishing standards for the criteria emissions performance of light-duty vehicles.