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CA Gov. Calls Bush Energy Plans Not Enough, Maybe Harmful

Less than 24 hours after President Bush outlined his energy plans as part of his State of the Union address, advisers to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared Wednesday that the president's plans are "insufficient" and potentially harmful in adding to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Not surprisingly, state officials claim Schwarzenegger's approach is preferable because it relies on markets and reduces GHG.

The California officials said Schwarzenegger's approach to setting a GHG emissions cap and low-carbon transportation fuel standards is "significantly different" from what Bush outlined Tuesday night, along with some similarities, according to Dan Skopec, an undersecretary at the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA).

"The governor calls for a market-based approach, and we think that is a win-win," said Linda Adams, CalEPA secretary, during a press briefing called at the governor's behest, although Schwarzenegger did not participate. "We're not picking winners or losers --the types of fuels, etc. -- we're letting the market decide."

California's approach to GHG emissions is to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by 10% by 2020, while the president's plan carries no GHG cap. "Alternative fuels could potentially lead to increasing GHG, according to Skopec. Based on Bush's proposal, the federal government will mandate the use of renewable fuels by a certain amount nationwide, with a mandate on the types of fuels used; California doesn't specify a fuel or fuels of choice.

California's plan is also more "taxpayer-friendly," said Skopec, contending that the Bush federal proposal involves up to $2 billion in loan guarantees to help underwrite the building of more alternative fuel infrastructure. "The governor's plan relies on the private sector to bring these infrastructure projects to California."

For gasoline consumption, California's current proposed reductions in total are estimated to produce a 26% drop in gasoline use by 2017, compared with the Bush estimate of a 20% reduction over the next 10 years under his plan.

"The key differences are the governor's plan is not a mandate and addresses GHG emissions, while the president's plan addresses petroleum dependence, it doesn't address GHG, and depending on where you get alternative fuels, you could end up having an actual increase in GHG emissions," Skopec said.

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