California plan to curb emissions draws fire from an unlikely source; Environmental groups see potential harm for low-income communities

Mary D. Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, predicts that the state's multipronged greenhouse-gas-reduction plan will face more and more friendly competition from other states like New York, Massachusetts and even Texas in areas like creating incentives for the development of renewable energy.

Global warming is cited far less frequently as a policy concern these days in the current political climate, Ms. Nichols said, but she maintains that progress is being made in cutting fossil fuel emissions nonetheless. ''I think climate itself may be out of favor at the moment as the reason for working on these issues, and energy security and petroleum reduction are in,'' she said. ''Either way, I see there's a lot of action going on.''

Matthew Kahn, an economist at the University of California, Los Angeles, predicts that making difficult economic adjustments, and possibly meeting environmental-justice concerns as well, will be partly a matter of trial and error as the cap-and-trade program unfolds.

''A big bet that's being made on the green economy is that there will be learning by doing,'' he said. ''We're providing a free experiment for the rest of the country.''

To read the full article by Felicity Barringer click here.