Duplicate copies of carbon offset proposal moves through both houses

By CMTA Staff

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

The contents of SB 1762 (Don Perata, President pro-Tempore, D-Oakland) were cloned on August 14th into AB 1851.  If the Senate passes AB 1851, it will have to go back to the Assembly floor for concurrence on its amendments.

The duplicate bills would create severe restrictions for qualifying an offset of greenhouse gas emissions, require disclosures that are excessive and burdensome, and impose penalties and potential civil liability that will chill the market for even legitimate offsets.  The safe harbors for offsets approved by the California Air Resources Board or satisfying Climate Change Action Registry protocols are not useful for offsets not covered by such protocols now or in the future.

The extensive criteria for compliance is also exceedingly burdensome and likely impossible to satisfy: That an offset must be quantifiable, measurable, surplus, and verifiable is expanded to include no criteria for air emissions, no impact on species, biodiversity, access to food, land use, water supply and more. Demonstrations of "no impact" would be costly for offset providers to accomplish. There is not a mitigation opportunity provided in the bill. These requirements will stifle the emerging voluntary offset market.

The bill also includes attorney fees and costs available for any action.  This enhances the likelihood of lawsuits and subsequent settlements to limit liability risks, even for advertisements of emission reductions that meet currently accepted standards in the industry and attempt in good faith to comply with additional requirements in this bill.    

It is important that consumers and businesses have confidence in carbon offset providers and are protected from fraud and misrepresentation, but AB 1851 and SB 1762 are not the way to do it.

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