Issues court-ordered do-over of alternatives to cap & trade
In response to a court ruling (which it’s still appealing), the California Air Resources Board today issued a new analysis of its proposed carbon trading program, weighed against several alternative means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The fresh look includes the original five options, including cap & trade and the option of doing nothing at all. It does not add any new options but rather seeks to flesh out the other three. The non-trading options include regulating emissions at the source, implementing a straight-up tax on carbon emissions, and a mixed bag of actions. The reworked analysis expands discussion of those three alternatives from a few pages to more than 60. It will be up to the courts to decide whether the extra paper carries enough substance with it to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act.
Regulators were sent back to the drawing board by a Superior Court ruling in May that favored plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by environmental justice advocates. The groups charged that the state sidestepped its own environmental laws in its original implementation plan for AB 32, stacking the deck toward a cap & trade program, and giving short shrift to other approaches. The judge agreed. The Air Board appealed but went back to work on alternatives, anyway.
The release of today’s “functional equivalent” document starts the clock on a 45-day period for public comment. The Air Board is scheduled to consider those comments at its meeting on August 24.