Jerry Brown (center)

SACRAMENTO -- Houston-based energy company ConocoPhilips yesterday became the country's first oil refiner to purchase carbon-offsets to help fund growth. Under an agreement with California Attorney General Jerry Brown, ConocoPhilips agreed to spend $10 million and undertake several greenhouse gas (GHG) audits. This will offset 500,000 metric tonnes of CO2 a new plant in Contra Costa County is expected to add to the Golden State's air annually. In return, Brown agreed to withdraw an appeal he recently filed with Contra Costa County officials opposing the expansion. Brown called his agreement with ConocoPhilips a "breakthrough" and "groundbreaking" in a statement released yesterday. "This the state an early edge in meeting the greenhouse gas reduction goals of AB 32," he said. AB 32 is California's anti-GHG law signed by GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in September last year. It established mandatory future caps, reporting rules, emission-reduction plans and new committees all aimed at reducing state GHG outputs. ConocoPhillips and Brown reached their agreement after Brown last month officially appealed the company's new Rodeo facility with the Contra Costa County Planning Commission. The attorney general said the refinery's expansion plan had failed to mitigate its potential increase in GHG emissions. Contra Costa County covers a large portion of the northern San Francisco Bay Area just to the north of Oakland, where Brown lives. He was mayor of Oakland for eight years before being elected state AG last year. Conoco Phillips will spend $7 million on Bay Area offset projects, $2.8 million of California reforestation projects and $200,000 on San Pablo wetlands restoration. It agrees to offset any emissions above 500,000 tons and may receive credits if emissions fall below offsets. Brown recently settled a GHG-emissions suit with San Bernardino County, one of the state's fastest-growing, over its General Plan for growth, LNL reported. He claimed the Inland Empire county had inadequately addressed GHG-reductions in breach of AB 32.

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