Plaintiffs who won a tentative ruling in a suit over the state’s climate law say they’re not out to torpedo AB 32
The half-dozen environmental justice advocacy groups sued over state regulators’ implementation plan and won a tentative ruling in their favor, from a state court in San Francisco. A lawyer for the Oakland-based Communities for a Better Environment called the ruling “very important and exciting,” but the groups insist that they’re looking to tweak the regulations under California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, not blow it up.
“We brought this case as a last-ditch effort,” said Alegria De La Cruz, legal director for the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment in San Francisco. She told me in a phone interview today that the focus was “in making sure that ARB follows the law and takes into consideration the most vulnerable communities in California, as it rolls out this transformative measure.”
De La Cruz pointed out that the cap-and-trade regulation is “still in development” and said what her organization wants is to, in effect, send regulators back to the drawing board on some — but not all — of the law’s implementation. “We have confidence that [CARB] will be able to get this work done and still meet it’s deadlines,” she said. In December, the Air Board approved a broad set of cap & trade regulations, subject to some fine tuning.
The “work” she refers to would be to flesh out CARB’s analysis of potential alternatives to carbon pricing through cap & trade. Plaintiffs in the suit argued that the Air Board gave short shrift to those alternatives before adopting cap & trade, and Judge Ernest Goldsmith agreed, writing that “With the decision to use cap and trade as the main vehicle by which emissions will be reduced, ARB skipped the determination that no other mechanisms facilitate the achievement” of the law’s emissions reductions goals.
The lawsuit was presaged back in August of last year, when members of the state-appointed Environmental Justice Advisory Committee sent a letter to the Air Board, expressing “serious concerns” that the proposed regulations failed on several fronts, including a means to identify communities particularly vulnerable to the effects of industrial emissions, as well as to costs imposed by a cap & trade system.
All parties have until Tuesday to file reactions to the ruling, which might not be finalized for weeks. State lawyers say they want to see the final ruling before deciding whether to appeal.