In the absence of federal policy to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, states and regions are stepping in with their own guidelines and penalties. Just yesterday, New Hampshire sent legislation to the governor to curb emissions and the Bay Area air pollution board decided to levy fees on businesses based on the global warming gases that they emit.
New Hampshire is poised to join the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), with legislation now in the hands of Governor John Lynch. The effort aims to set up a market-based, “cap and trade” program to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by setting an emissions cap, and having utilities pay for allowances to cover their emissions. A state-regulated fund would stockpile allowances to be used to improve energy efficiency. (See more details in this Boston Globe story.)
The fees that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board, which regulates a nine-county region, will assess on businesses are based on the tons of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases that the businesses emit. The bulk of the fees will come from oil refineries in the region, but will also affect factories, bakeries, print shops and others that emit greenhouse gases. The fees are slated to pay for the study and monitoring of the gases, and research into how to reduce them. (Read more in this San Jose Mercury News story.)
Local and regional governments have stepped in to regulate emissions, filling a void that Congress and the Bush Administration have failed to tackle. These regional and local approaches may serve as a model for broader policy actions.