You read that correctly. Today, California motorists have the right to buy as much gasoline as they want, and fuel companies have the right to sell as much as they can supply, at prices agreeable to both. But in the New Year, California will limit sales of gasoline, diesel, and natural gas and propane for business and home use.
The California Air Resources Board is doing this through its Greenhouse Gas Cap and Trade Regulation. This rule makes it illegal to burn conventional fuels like coal and natural gas in industrial facilities without a state permit for each ton of resulting carbon dioxide.* Since California only issues a limited number of allowances each year, the limit on carbon dioxide effectively limits the amount of fuel that can be used to produce it. Starting in two weeks, the limit will expand from factories and power plants to fuel used in ordinary cars and trucks, and natural gas and propane for home heating and cooking.
How is this going on without an enormous public outcry?
Because the Air Resources Board is requiring gasoline and diesel refiners and importers to have the permits in order to sell fuel, rather than imposing that obligation on retail fuel purchasers. As a result, this statewide rationing system is invisible to most citizens. Their free market right to buy gasoline is being replaced with a bureaucratic central planning regime, the purpose of which is to reduce the overall supply of conventional fuel legally usable in California.
Adding insult to injury, California is collecting billions of dollars of illegal taxes through the fuel rationing cap and trade program, by auctioning all of the fuel permits to the highest bidders. Pacific Legal Foundation is challenging these billions in illegal fuel taxes in the California court of appeal. The California legislature never approved them, and the state Constitution would prohibit them if the legislature had.
*Veterans of high school chemistry will recall that release of carbon dioxide is one of the natural results of combustion of these fuels, and that carbon dioxide is inhaled by plants and exhaled by mammals.