SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California air regulators adopted a sweeping new climate plan yesterday that would require the state's utilities, refineries and large factories to transform their operations to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.
The California Air Resources Board voted unanimously to adopt the nation's most comprehensive global-warming plan, outlining for the first time how individuals and businesses would meet a landmark 2006 law that made the state a leader on global climate change.
The plan would hold California's worst polluters accountable for the heat-trapping emissions they produce - transforming how people travel, how utilities generate power, and how businesses use electricity.
At the heart of the plan is a carbon-credit market designed to give the state's big polluters cheaper ways to cut their emissions. That market and the many other strategies in the plan will be fleshed out and adopted in the next few years.
California's plan comes at a time when governments around the world are struggling with a financial crisis that threatens to undermine efforts to fight climate change. California is facing a forecast budget gap of $41.8 billion through June 2010.
Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has said the state's climate law will stimulate the economy, said California was providing a roadmap for the country.
Last month, President-elect Barack Obama said he hoped Congress would adopt California's targets for the entire country, essentially reversing eight years of U.S. policy against mandated emission cuts.
California's 2006 law, the Global Warming Solutions Act, mandates the state cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
The strategy chosen by air regulators relies on 31 new rules affecting all facets of life, from the fuels Californians put in their vehicles to the air conditioners that businesses install in their buildings.
The average Californian, for example, could see more fuel-efficient cars at dealerships, better public transportation, housing near schools and businesses, and utility rebates to equip their homes to be more energy-efficient.
But there will also be costs.
California drivers will see more expensive cars on showroom floors and should expect to pay higher power bills as utilities increase their use of renewable energy.