California became the first state in the nation to adopt its own cap-and-trade system yesterday, as its Air Resources Board voted unanimously to approve the regulations. The vote came after a grueling eight-hour meeting filled with the opinions of angry union members, disapproving industry representatives, and miscellaneous plan supporters, the LA Times reports. After the board finally held the vote, chairman Mary Nichols announced, “We’ve done something important.”
The air pollution controls won’t actually kick in until 2013, and then only for the state’s biggest carbon emission sources; they will be expanded to cover around 85% of emitters in 2015. Other states will be watching the program closely, and may imitate it if it’s successful. The program sets a cap on carbon emissions, and allows companies that are under the cap to sell their excess allowance to companies that are over. California's carbon market is expected to eventually be the second-largest in the world, behind the European Union.