Judge Halts California’s Plan For Trading Pollution Credits
CARB is expected to stop work on cap and trade plans to follow court orders. Other provisions of AB 32 are unaffected by the ruling.
By Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou, EGP Staff Writer
Members of environmental justice groups who contend cap and trade is a “terrible idea,” especially for low-income communities of color, have stopped the California Air Resources Board from moving forward with this emissions reduction method as part of its implementation of AB 32.
READ THIS STORY IN SPANISH: Juez de California Detiene Plan de Vender Créditos de Contaminación
Last Friday, a San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith ordered CARB to study other ways of implementing AB 32, a bill requiring greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by the year 2020, before the state agency could continue to work on its cap and trade plan.
Goldsmith writes in his order to the state, “ARB committed a prejudicial abuse of discretion when it failed to proceed in a manner required by law by inadequately describing and analyzing Project alternatives sufficient for informed decision making and public participation.”
Executive Director of Communities for a Better Environment Bill Gallegos says cap and trade would allow “the most entrenched polluters” to buy credits on the market to continue polluting next to poor communities of color.
Oil refineries, power plants, and industrial factories are among those that may consider buying credits to offset the emissions produced as part of their operations.
A group calling themselves the Association of Irritated Residents, together with members of CBE and the Center on Race, Poverty, & the Environment, sued CARB in 2009 after the agency ignored “hundreds of pages of comments” and recommendations made by the Environmental Justice Task Force formed to oversee the implementation of AB 32, Gallegos said.
The task force raised concerns that CARB was favoring the free market cap and trade approach over other methods. “We want CARB to really look at the other alternatives. The most effective reduction of bad pollution in California happened when we adopted thoughtful industrial regulations,” he said.
Gallegos has said cap and trade is “not effective in reducing greenhouse gases, increases pollution in heavily polluted low-income communities and communities of color, and misses the opportunity to create jobs.”
He added implementation of cap and trade programs in places like the European Union has shown that “hedge funds got rich, there is an enormous amount of fraud, and its makes the pollution situation worse in low income communities of color.”
Even though cap and trade was widely supported in the past, leading to the “zeal” that helped to promote this method as part of AB 32, there has been less support in recent years, says CBE’s attorney Adrienne Bloch.
There have been questions as to whether the method has worked in the European Union. She views cap and trade as a “terrible idea” and says “more people are starting to see it doesn’t work,” including the Sierra Club which recently urged Governor Jerry Brown to reconsider the use of cap and trade methods to reduce air pollution.
Environmental justice groups are supportive of AB 32 in general, however, and came out to protect it when a proposition to kill AB 32 was put onto the ballot last November.
Bloch says they are “extremely happy” their lawsuit against CARB only blocks the state agency from moving forward with the cap and trade portion of AB 32.
CARB spokesperson Stanley Young says they filed a notice of appeal on Monday. “We respectfully disagree with the court’s determination that ARB did not adequately analyze alternatives to cap and trade program in the Scoping Plan,” he said.
Even so, Young says they are now working on a “revised Scoping Plan alternatives analysis that will fully address the issues raised in the court’s decision.”Print This Post
May 26, 2011 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.