Business & Real Estate

California says carbon permits sell out at auction with Quebec

California officials said Wednesday that industrial firms spent nearly $407 million in the latest quarterly auction of carbon emissions permits, the first auction run with the Canadian province of Quebec.

All of the permits were sold, a total of nearly 34 million allowances. Each allowances gives a firm the right to emit a ton of carbon.

The auction was held last Thursday after being postponed for technical reasons.

The quarterly auctions are a centerpiece of California’s two-year-old “cap and trade” program, which seeks to limit carbon emissions as part of the state’s initiative to curb climate change. State officials have been trying to get other states involved in the program, which is part of a seven-year-old state law, and Quebec is the first entity to sign on.

“The success of this first joint auction...shows that states, provinces and regions working together can achieve more in the fight against climate change than working alone,” said Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, which runs the state effort.

The program has been controversial in California because of the cost it imposes on the several hundred companies that are required to participate. The controversy has increased because motor fuels will be covered by the program starting Jan. 1. That’s expected to increase gas and diesel prices by 10 cents a gallon. A group of Republican legislators introduced a bill this week to exempt fuels from the program.

Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.