On November 24, 2009, the California Air Resources Board unveiled its proposed draft regulation for a greenhouse gas ("GHG") cap-and-trade program in its effort to put California on the path to achieve the mandate imposed by Assembly Bill 32 ("The Global Warming Solutions Act") of reducing GHG emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020, and ultimately achieving an 80% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050. The cap-and-trade strategy is a proposed solution that is intended to provide the certainty that GHG emission reductions will be achieved by setting emission goals, while offering the needed flexibility in reaching those goals through the creation of tradable permits. In other words, the "cap" is a legal limit on the quantity of greenhouse gases that a particular region can emit each year and the "trade" means that companies may swap among themselves the permission—or permits—to emit greenhouse gases. Release of the preliminary draft regulation marks the beginning of the next phase of the cap-and-trade rulemaking, culminating in the California Air Resources Board's consideration in 2010 of the first broad based cap-and-trade program in the nation. The rule will be in effect by January 1, 2012.
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