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In-Depth Interview: Environmental Scientist Greg Karras Reveals Dirty Deals That Led to California Cap & Trade Extension

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Greg Karras, senior scientist at Communities for a Better Environment, details the wheeling and dealing that led to recent passage of Gov. Brown’s cap and trade extension, and it’s not pretty.Karras co-authored this report on the projected impacts of the cap and trade program, and some of the defects in the new laws.

We begin the interview with the audio from a local TV news report on Gov. Brown’s signing of twin bills, staged on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay and joined by his GOP predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who used the same scene 11 years ago to sign AB 32, which initiated a cap and trade program for carbon emitters.

We note that the TV report omitted any reference to science, to the actual terms of the new laws, the pre-emption of existing air quality regulation, or the way Brown negotiated almost exclusively with industry leaders in crafting the bills.

Karras and your host aren’t opposed to cap and trade, but Karras points out that it hasn’t been very effective so far, and that it was supposed to be one of many “tools in the toolbox” and is now the only tool in play.  With free and low-cost credits assigned to polluters, it’s hard to see how California will achieve targeted reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

He offers important background and history on California’s oil industry, its production, and its cozy relationship with political leaders and regulators.  And we leave it to the listener to decide if Brown has earned his reputation as a leader in addressing climate change.