California governor signs new ‘super pollutant’ bill into law

California governor signs new ‘super pollutant’ bill into law
© Getty Images

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has signed into law new standards for “super pollutants” like black carbon and methane. 

The bill signed by Brown on Monday requires a 50 percent reduction in black carbon and 40 percent cuts in methane and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from 2013 levels by 2030. 

ADVERTISEMENT
Black carbon is a component of fine particulate matter formed by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. Methane is the primary component of natural gas and a source of pollution at drilling sites. HFCs are chemicals used primarily in air conditioning and refrigeration. 

All three pollutants are short-lived when released into the atmosphere, but they have potent impacts on climate change. Methane, for instance, has 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide; HFCs are up to 10,000 times stronger than carbon dioxide. 

The Obama administration has looked to crack down on methane and HFCs, instituting new standards on emissions at drilling sites and seeking an international HFC reduction deal by the end of the year.

Brown’s office said the measure he signed on Monday, if applied worldwide, would cut the projected rate of climate change in half by 2050. 

“Cutting black carbon and other super pollutants is the critical next step in our program to combat climate change,” Brown said at a signing ceremony on Monday.

“This bill curbs these dangerous pollutants and thereby protects public health and slows climate change.” 

The new pollutant standards are one of a handful of climate-related bills approved by the California Legislature this year, including a plan to cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030.