Reading the Mary Nichols (carbon) tea leaves

It’s undoubtedly dangerous to try to read too much into short media quotes.  But Mary Nichols, the chair of the California Air Resources Board, is in a better position than most to judge (and to influence) the political winds on the future of the State’s cap-and-trade program.   Here’s her latest public statement on the issue, made during an appearance last week at a climate conference in LA (and reported by KPCC here, with audio, and also by the LA Times here): 

“We have to be open to the possibility that there could be other ways to get reductions,” she said. “Certainly the current governor deserves a chance to put his mark on the program and decide if he wants it to change in some ways.”

To me, this seems a bit more tepid than her usual full-steam-ahead stance on cap and trade.   Sean has speculated (without particular grounds, he admits) that Governor Brown may reopen the question of whether to rely on a cap-and-trade program to help achieve the greenhouse gas reductions required by California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32.  Already, ARB’s plan for achieving those cuts does about 80% of the job through measures other than cap and trade, so the change would be very significant but would not set the State back to square one.  We’ve covered elsewhere on this blog the debate about why EJ advocates are pushing for an authentic reconsideration of the cap-and-trade question.  Sounds like they may actually be getting one?

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