S.F. judge puts state’s cap and trade plan on hold

Reprinted from the Sacramento Bee:

S.F. judge puts state’s cap and trade plan on hold

By Rick Daysog
Published: Saturday, May. 21, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 6B

California must put an immediate halt to work on its cap and trade program until it completes a review of alternative approaches to reducing climate change, a state judge said Friday.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith ruled in March that the California Air Resources Board failed to conduct such a review but left open the question of whether the agency could conduct rule-making, environmental studies or do any other work while the legal issues were being resolved.

The state said at the time that it would appeal.

On Friday, Goldsmith enjoined the ARB from “engaging in any cap and trade-related activity.”

ARB spokesman Stanley Young said Friday that the agency “respectfully disagrees” with the judge’s findings but noted that the ARB is working on a revised plan that provides an analysis of alternatives to cap and trade.

As a key component of the state’s landmark climate change law, the cap and trade program essentially places a limit on the amount of carbon emitted by the state’s 500 largest polluters and creates allowances that can be bought and sold on an open market.

Companies that pollute less than their limit can sell their unused allowances to companies that pollute heavily, providing incentives for the companies to reduce emissions voluntarily.

The program is set to begin operating in January 2012, but Goldsmith’s order on Monday could cause delays.

Other areas of the state’s greenhouse gas-reduction law, such as the state’s low-carbon fuel standard for automobiles and the requirement that utilities in California obtain a third of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, are not affected by the ruling.

According to Young, ARB staffers had been working to develop key segments of the program, including enforcement rules, oversight procedures and reporting requirements for heavy polluters.

Goldsmith’s ruling came after several community organization and environment groups sued the state.

“We have even more evidence that cap and trade does not work to reduce greenhouse gas emission,” said Bill Gallegos, executive director of Communities for a Better Environment, one of the plaintiffs



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