Superior court orders cap-and-trade reassessment

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, May 27, 2011 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

A San Francisco Superior Court Judge recently issued a decision prohibiting further work on the cap-and-trade portion of AB 32, pending additional assessment and exploration of alternatives to satisfy requirements set by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Last December California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted the cap-and-trade program as a key component in reducing carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 under AB 32.  The program places limitations on the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions a company can emit, but allows companies to either purchase or trade emissions credits with other companies to produce emissions over the set limit.  Environmental groups who opposed the cap-and-trade program filed a lawsuit claiming that alternatives to the program were never fully assessed, therefore, violating CEQA.  In addition, lawsuit proponents claim that CARB’s cap-and-trade program “does not work to reduce GHG emissions…and has the worst impact on health in low income communities and communities of color."

Last February a state court ruled that CARB should halt implementation of the scoping plan for its GHG program. They found that CARB failed to adequately discuss and analyze the impacts of alternatives in its proposed Scoping Plan as required by its CEQA implementing regulations. An environmental review should have been completed before CARB approved the Scoping Plan.

Besides the cap-and-trade portion, the latest Superior Court ruling does not, however, affect the implementation of the other AB 32 policies.  In response to the court decision, CARB expressed its disappointment by stating that it fully complied with CEQA during the cap-and-trade assessment process and will file a notice of appeal next week.

A key section of the Superior Court’s final ruling:

    The writ shall specifically enjoin ARB from engaging in any cap and trade related Project activity that could result in an adverse change to the physical environment until ARB has comes into complete compliance with ARB's obligations under its certified regulatory program and CEQA, consistent with the Court’s Order.  This includes any further rulemaking and implementation of cap and trade, specifically but not limited to any action in furtherance of California Cap and Trade Program Resolution 10-42.   ….The court retains jurisdiction.

To see the full ruling, click here:

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