Environmental Justice Groups Intensify Judicial and Legislative Campaign Against California's Proposed Cap-and-Trade Program

by Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP
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Environmental Justice groups have redoubled their efforts to terminate the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) proposed cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 under the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32). As opposed to a traditional regulatory approach whereby a GHG source would be forced to reduce its on-site emissions, cap-and-trade is a market based approach that allows a GHG source the option to either reduce on-site emissions, or to offset its emissions or pay another source to reduce GHG emissions. Environmental Justice groups have long argued that a market based cap-and-trade program would allow GHG sources to buy their way to compliance and result in disproportionately higher emissions in lower-income communities where large GHG sources reside. These groups have now increased their opposition to cap-and-trade on both the judicial and legislative fronts.

As set forth in our prior blog articles, in Ass'n of Irritated Residents v. CARB the Superior Court sided with the Environmental Justice groups suing CARB, ruling that in adopting cap-and-trade, CARB did not perform the rigorous analysis required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Superior Court enjoined cap-and-trade implementation. After a series of legal maneuvers, the California Court of Appeal stayed the injunction, thereby allowing CARB to proceed with rulemaking even as the legal case against it continued.

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