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Court: Cap and Trade Can Go Forward in California

Steam rises over the Valero Benicia refinery early Saturday morning, May 22, 2010.
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Steam rises over the Valero Benicia refinery early Saturday morning, May 22, 2010.
 

Steam rises over the Valero Benicia refinery early Saturday morning, May 22, 2010.
James Irwin for The Bay Citizen
https://citizen-media.s3.amazonaws.com/uploaded/images/2010/5/valero-refinery-benicia/original/benicia.jpg?Signature=AfLSOaINYez8UDxtIJSM6OBNwZI%3D&Expires=1359073396&AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAICY2ZBGLHCXTSKJA
Steam rises over the Valero Benicia refinery early Saturday morning, May 22, 2010.
James Irwin for The Bay Citizen

A major component of California's landmark climate change law has received the go-ahead from a state appeals court, despite objections from environmental justice groups.

The 1st District Court of Appeal on Friday extended a stay of a lower court ruling that had called for the the state to halt work on the cap-and-trade provision of Assembly Bill 32.

Cap and trade is a market-based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that places limits on emissions and allows polluters to trade permits to emit certain amounts of greenhouse gases. It accounts for about one-fifth of the emissions reductions laid out in AB 32, which aims to shrink California's emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

The suit, filed by a group of environmental justice organizations, claimed that the California Air Resources Board, tasked with implementing AB 32, hadn't thoroughly considered alternatives to cap and trade. In a May decision, a San Francisco Superior Court judge ordered the agency to stop developing the cap-and-trade program until it had completed a study of alternative means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The appellate court issued a temporary stay of that decision in early June, allowing planning to go forward for the program, which is scheduled to launch in January. Friday's ruling extended that stay.

Critics, including the groups that filed the lawsuit — Communities for a Better Environment and the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment — say cap and trade would not protect low-income communities from pollution released by nearby power plants and oil refineries. (The Bay Citizen has reported on the debate over the efficacy of cap-and-trade.)

Bill Gallegos, executive director of Communities for a Better Environment, says his group and others are discussing taking further legal action to stop the cap-and-trade measure. He added that the Sierra Club and other organizations have written to Gov. Jerry Brown asking him to intervene to stop the program.

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