Bay area AQMD proposes global warming fee on businesses

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Feb. 15, 2008 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Bay Area air pollution regulators are proposing to charge an annual fee to thousands of businesses based on the amount of greenhouse gases they emit – a policy that would set a new precedent in the United States for businesses that contribute to global warming and are charged for it.  The fee would be levied on everything from oil refineries to small businesses and restaurants.  It would be set at about 4.2 cents per metric ton of carbon dioxide and is aimed towards raising $1.1 million a year to pay for the air district’s global warming reduction programs.   

Two prominent Bay Area examples of businesses that would be subject to and incur hefty fees due to the policy are the Shell oil refinery in Martinez and the Hanson Permanente Cement Plant in Cupertino.  Under the proposed policy they would pay $186,475 and $44,507 respectively for 4.4 and 1.05 million tons of emissions.

The policy proposal comes after years of voluntary measures and has been proposed by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.  If the local air district is successful in implementing the fees, it is likely that the policy will be implemented by additional regions and possibly at significantly higher rates.  Concerns have been noted that the fees will ultimately be passed on to the consumer, increasing costs for everything from energy and fuel to food and services.

The air district is charged with regulating smog in the nine counties around San Francisco Bay:  Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Napa, and portions of southwestern Solano and southern Sonoma counties.

The air district's board will purportedly start discussions on the rule as early as late February and could take a final vote as early as May.  Should the rule be implemented, it will be a matter of time before the remaining 30 air districts in California copy the idea, ultimately leading to a patchwork of inconsistent rules across the state.

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