Santa Monica, CA — An energy industry-funded European junket this spring emphasized controversial emissions trading schemes to the Schwarzenegger administration delegation responsible for implementing the state’s greenhouse gas initiative, according to documents obtained under the Public Records Act.
Governor Schwarzenegger’s commitment to reducing greenhouse emissions has come into question after he fired the top regulator responsible for implementing reductions, and reports that his advisors pressured regulators to adopt a weak, business-friendly emissions reduction plan. The Assembly is holding a hearing today to examine the independence of the Air Resources Board and interference by administration officials in the board’s work.
Schwarzenegger has come under fire from proponents of the greenhouse gas legislation for his attempts to steer implementation of the greenhouse gas legislation away from regulation, as prioritized in the bill, toward market mechanisms like trading schemes.
Trip documents reveal that participants spent double the time with proponents of carbon trading systems than was allotted to other emissions reduction programs and other meetings combined.
The 9-day European junket, which cost $8150 per person, was paid for by the energy-industry funded California Climate Action Registry. CCAR donors include BP, Southern California Edison, SDG&E and PG&E, and executives with each company joined the European trip.
“Big business is pushing a cap and trade system to avoid having to make real cutbacks in greenhouse gases, and the governor is doing everything he can to make it happen,” said Carmen Balber, consumer advocate with FTCR. “Governor Schwarzenegger is basking in a green spotlight while undermining pollution reductions in the shadows.”
Schwarzenegger also faced criticism last year for issuing an executive order to give his appointees greater power over implementation of the law. He tapped a “Climate Action Team” to lead implementation, several members of which were on the European junket: CalEPA Secretary Linda Adams, Resources Agency Secretary Mike Chrisman, and Energy Commission Chair Jackalyne Pfannenstiel.
“Big business opponents of greenhouse gas reductions bought high-quality face time with administration regulators by sending them overseas, scheduling discussions of their top regulatory priority, and then going along for the ride,” said Balber. “This European vacation gave some of the state’s largest polluters — including Edison, Chevron and PG&E — unparalleled access to key decision makers as they implement California’s greenhouse gas reduction legislation.”
See the trip itinerary: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/CCAR_schedule.pdf
And a list of participants: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/CCAR_attendees.pdf
More than 200 pages of documents obtained from the trip are available from FTCR.
Covered expenses for the trip included:
– $4200 for airfare, in British Airways World Traveller Plus class including “contemporary, three course main meals” and “complimentary wines served in a glass, beers and spirits from the bar”
– $2400 for hotels, including the Conrad Hotel Brussels (the “Luxury Brand of the Hilton Family”)
– $800 in pocket money, although most meals appear to have been provided as part of the group itinerary.
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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is California’s leading nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization. For more information, visit us on the web at: www.ConsumerWatchdog.org