California unveils sweeping plan to combat climate change
Baked Earth (Photo: Shutterstock)

California released a sweeping plan to cut the state's output of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions on Friday, countering the newly-minted Trump administration's move to undo federal U.S. carbon regulations.

The plan drew battle lines for an expected clash with President Donald Trump over climate change, including a fight over the state's decades-old authority to set emissions limits that are far stricter than those in many other parts of the United States.

California's plan details how the state would achieve its goal of cutting emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, which state air regulators called the most ambitious target in North America.

Trump has cast doubt on the degree to which human activity causes climate change. His nominee for secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, this week expressed doubts about the science behind climate change and said EPA rules should not hurt economic development.

The California plan includes an extension of the state's controversial carbon cap and trade program and calls for the state's oil refineries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent.

"Climate change is impacting California now, and we need to continue to take bold and effective action to address it head on to protect and improve the quality of life in California," said CARB chair Mary Nichols.

The Trump administration on Friday removed all mentions of climate change from the White House website and said it would eliminate the Climate Action Plan, which seeks to cut emissions in part by preserving forests and encouraging increased use of cleaner renewable fuels. [L1N1FA1H6]

During a congressional hearing on Wednesday, Pruitt said the government would not commit to letting California set more stringent vehicles emissions standards through a federal waiver.

Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma, has sued the Obama administration over the Clean Power Plan, a key part of the nation's effort to meet its international climate change agreement.

In addition to extending the cap and trade program out to 2030, California's proposal calls for an 18 percent reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels burned in the state and 4.2 million zero-emission vehicles on the road.

It would set California's economy, which is the world's sixth largest, on a trajectory to achieving an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, regulators said.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll, additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici; editing by G Crosse and Andrew Hay)