SACRAMENTO – An environmental policy-setting panel today approved Sen. Jenny Oropeza´s plan to reduce the release into the air of a widely used ´greenhouse´ gas previously thought harmless.
The Senate Environmental Quality Committee´s approval of Senate Bill 104 came the week following Earth Day. If adopted into law, SB 104 would direct the California Air Resources Board to regulate nitrogen trifluoride, or NF3, and possibly other gases found to be at least as harmful as carbon dioxide.
In 2006, California policymakers passed legislation to reduce harmful emissions under Assembly Bill 32. But that landmark measure did not address NF3, which at the time was thought to be a clean alternative to gases used in manufacturing televisions, solar panels and microprocessors.
Oropeza´s bill comes after a 2008 study by the University of California, Irvine concluded NF3 has a global-warming potential 17,000 times greater than carbon dioxide. The study also indicated that NF3 persists in the atmosphere for centuries.
In addition, another study published last year by UC San Diego found that, contrary to industry claims, a larger amount of NF3 has been released into the air than had previously been believed. UC scientists have also concluded that the quantity of this gas is indeed growing rapidly in the atmosphere.
Supporters of SB 104 include the Sierra Club, Coalition for Clean Air, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Its introduction followed action earlier this year by President Barack Obama to allow California and other states to approve stricter vehicle emissions standards than under current federal law.
SB 104 will now go to the Appropriations Committee for review. No date has yet been set.