In Cap and Trade Fight, EJ Groups Offer Options

Photo: Craig Miller

Suspend cap-and-trade, or stop the whole show.

Those are the options offered by the environmental justice groups who won a court ruling against the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in March. The groups were seeking to halt cap-and-trade over health concerns for communities located near industrial polluters. A California Superior Court judge ruled that CARB had violated state environmental law by not adequately considering alternatives to cap-and-trade, and suspended all 68 regulations that implement California’s global warming law, AB 32, until the board complies.

The two sides entered negotiations to find ways for the state to move forward with parts of AB 32 other than cap-and-trade, but those talks broke down on March 30.

Today, the environmental justice groups submitted their final documentation to the court, proposing two options. The first stops the implementation of all measures in CARB’s Scoping Plan for implementing AB 32. The other stops only the development of the cap-and-trade program, until an environmental review is completed.

“Our preference is that the focus be on cap-and-trade,” said Bill Gallegos, the executive director of Communities for a Better Environment, one of the plaintiffs. “We mainly just want to make AB 32 stronger.  There are very positive things in that law and we don’t want to see them all on hold.”

CARB has said that it will appeal the court’s decision. Should that happen, the appeals court could stay the recent order and allow implementation of AB 32 and cap-and-trade to continue.

California’s cap-and-trade program, which is scheduled to launch in January of 2012, represents about 20% of the total emissions reductions called for under AB 32.