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Lawmakers propose new scheme to regulate carbon emissions in California

Carbon emissions regulation is an important issue for businesses, not only because of the fact that businesses are regulated at both the state and federal level in this area, but because there are costs associated with noncompliance.

California currently has a program in place which involves a cap-and-trade approach to carbon emissions regulations. The rules put a maximum limit on carbon emissions, and that limit decreases over time. Companies which exceed the carbon emissions limit are required to pay penalties. California companies are also able to buy and sell permits on a market, which is supposed to incentivize emissions reductions. 

Impending changes for the EPA under a new presidency, questions about the applicability of the California law beyond 2020, and a slowdown in state revenue generated by the sale of carbon emissions permits, have led some lawmakers to seek a new proposal for regulating carbon emissions. Last week, a new proposal was announced which would replace the current regulatory scheme with something proponents feel would be more effective and progressive.

Under the new proposal, carbon emissions was still be capped and businesses would still have the ability to buy and sell carbon emissions permits, but the regulatory scheme would fund a program that would provide rebates available to the public, which would likely be beneficial to low-income communities.  The new cap-and-trade program would also require a greater majority to pass. Critics say, among other things, that the costs of the new scheme would be passed along to consumers.

The state of California already has some of the strictest environmental regulations in the nation, particularly when it comes to regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Keeping up with these regulations is important for businesses in order to avoid the penalties associated with noncompliance, but also to maintain a good public image and to ensure the success of the business.

Navigating environmental compliance is not necessarily an easy matte, as a lot of internal planning, and coordination must be done to ensure effective processes are in place and that established standards are being followed. Working with an experienced attorney is critical for businesses to effectively navigate environmental law compliance.

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