Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday Must Read: State to Adopt Cap-and-Trade Today; High Court Approves Open Primaries

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 7:09 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. California regulators are poised to adopt landmark climate-change rules today — a cap-and-trade system designed to significantly reduce greenhouse gases and boost the state’s growing green-tech industry, the Chron and Mercury News report. The California Air Resources Board is set to approve a cap-and-trade system that is similar to one that failed to pass the US Senate this year. The system caps the amount of greenhouse gases that a polluter can emit, while allowing polluters to buy “credits” from clean-energy producers. The market-based system thus makes carbon-emitters less profitable and green-tech more profitable.

2. California will have open primaries in which voters can cast ballots for any candidate they choose regardless of party affiliation, the state Supreme Court ruled, according the Chron. The ruling upholds a voter-approved initiative from earlier this year. Under open primaries, all candidates from all parties run against each other, and then the top two vote-getters move on to the November general election. The system makes it possible for two Democrats or two Republicans to face off in a general election, and is designed to reduce partisanship in Sacramento.

3. The Obama administration has endorsed California's controversial plan to divert water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the CoCo Times reports. However, the Obama administration stopped short of backing the proposal to build two giant tunnels to carry the water under the delta, instead of a previous plan to construct a peripheral canal around the delta. Many environmentalists oppose either water-diversion plan because they say both will harm the delta's fragile ecosystem.

4. The new tower of the Bay Bridge’s eastern span began to rise yesterday, and CalTrans hopes to have a significant part of it finished by Christmas, the Chron and CoCo Times report. The tower is expected to be completed by February when it will stand 525 feet above the bay.

5. Grocery prices have surged over the past year and are expected to rise further, putting more pressure on consumer pocketbooks, the Chron reports. Since November 2009, the price of meat, poultry, fish and eggs has jumped 5.8 percent. Dairy and related products rose 3.8 percent; fats and oils, 3 percent; and sugar and sweets, 1.2 percent. Overall inflation nationwide was 1.1 percent, grocery prices went up 1.7 percent nationally and 1.3 percent in the Bay Area.

6. Federal regulators banned the sale of traditional drop-side cribs, following the deaths of at least 32 infants in the past decade, AP reports. The Consumer Product Safety Commission made it illegal to sell cribs in which one side slides down for easier access. The ruling also applies to the resale of used cribs.

7. Two powerful storms are expected to sweep into the Bay Area beginning tomorrow, bringing up to ten inches of rain in some areas by Christmas, the Chron reports. The blustery storms threaten to cause widespread flooding.

8. Governor-elect Jerry Brown may move into a condo in midtown Sacramento with his wife, the Sacramento Bee reports. However, Brown also is expected to keep his home in the Oakland hills.

9. And Twitter, which has 175 million users, now says it’s worth a staggering $3.7 billion, Bloomberg News reports.

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