Apr 04 2011

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: 9th Circuit Sends California’s AB 32 Back to Reconsider Alternatives

Published by under Climate Change

Mount Whitney, in California, is the highest point in the contiguous US, via wikimedia

The 9th Circuit recently issued its final ruling that a key part of California’s landmark climate change bill, AB 32, had not properly considered all alternatives and must be reevaluated.  The part in question is the “scoping plan” that the Air Resources Board was required to develop under the bill as a way to achieve the goal of reducing greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020. The plan was challenged by several environmental justice advocacy groups because it relied heavily on a cap-and-trade system to achieve the required results, a method the groups say would harm poverty stricken areas by allowing pollution sources to buy their way out of reducing emissions.  The organizations argue that air pollution disproportionately affects low-income areas and may get worse if polluters could buy their way to compliance.  The 9th Circuit decided that the Air Resources Board had not properly analyze all potential alternatives to the cap-and-trade program and therefore violated the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.  The scoping plan has been sent back to the agency to be reconsidered, delaying implementation of AB 32.  This decision comes less than a year after Proposition 23, which would have suspended AB 32 until unemployment had dropped below 5.5%, was defeated by California voters. Continue Reading »

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