Global warming gas tax fails to outrage Californians

Don't tell anyone, but the California plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is working. So writes business columnist Michael Hiltzik in today's LATimes. He begins by quoting the leading state official on the subject of air pollution.

"We think we do have a good story to tell," says Mary D. Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board.

The program's quarterly auctions of emissions allowances have gone on largely without a hitch. The program has fit in, as was expected, with other emissions reduction programs implemented under AB 32, the state's landmark greenhouse gas legislation, including mandates for renewable fuels sources for electrical utilities and emissions standards for new cars and trucks.

It has done so without a measurable drag on economic growth. The program generated $969 million in revenue for the state through the end of 2014, and is expected to generate $2 billion a year or more in the future. The money must be spent on efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Hiltzik also points out that before passage of Fran Pavley's AB 32, fossil fuel interests predicted gas price rises of 16 to 76 cents a gallon. An anti-tax campaign attempted to stir outrage about the program, making no apparent impression.

One positive aspect of the state's lengthening experience is that it has "drained away some of the fear-mongering" about cap-and-trade, says Severin Borenstein, an energy expert at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

Only a column could a newspaper editor get away with a headline like this:

Emissions cap-and-trade program is working well in California

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