Court Dishes Overdue Justice to CARB

MARCH 23, 2011

In the matters of public relations and legislative maneuvering, Mary Nichols is a very smart woman. She has been the chairman of the California Air Resources Board (CARB, or sometimes just ARB) under both Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown.

She knows exactly how to get her way. This was exemplified more than a year ago.

Testifying before the state Assembly Natural Resources Committee, Nichols explained the necessity of AB 32, the sweeping and controversial cap-and-trade bill that would revolutionize California’s approach to greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are at a critical juncture in our history of energy development in California and the U.S.,” she told the committee on Dec. 8, 2009. “With or without climate policy, our economy will eventually rebound. However, we face a serious choice about that growth. We can choose to continue our dependency on increasingly scarce — and expensive — non-renewable resources. Or we can follow a new arc of economic growth, one that promotes clean energy and increased efficiency, diversification of transportation fuels and electrical energy sources — making our economy more resilient and our job market more robust. I hope we follow the latter path.”

By painting the need for cap-and-trade — a market-based approach to lessening greenhouse gas emissions by selling carbon credits to polluters — as a stark choice between cleaning the environment and letting everything go to hell, Nichols was showing her political genius. But she was also setting herself up for legal failure of a deliciously ironic sort.

Six months before Nichols appeared before the Natural Resources Committee, a coalition of environmental organizations sued CARB in San Francisco Superior Court. They alleged that the board had not properly considered other alternatives to cap-and-trade, which they insisted would result in dramatically increased pollution in “low income communities of color.”

See, in spite of CARB’s long insistence that environmentalists supported its cap-and-trade plans, there was a small but very determined group of activists who felt CARB’s plans were very, very bad. Not because they sided with Texas oil companies or dismissed climate change, but because they felt cap-and-trade didn’t go far enough to clean the environment.

They complained to CARB and told the board of their concerns. But when CARB went ahead anyway with cap-and-trade as though no one had uttered a complaint, the activists went to the courts.

What?! CARB acted in a high-handed, devil-may-care manner? Say it ain’t so!

Then again, CARB is the same agency that slapped a $150 million bail on a couple who were being prosecuted for selling engines that didn’t comply with state air pollution regulations. It’s also the agency that fined a motorcycle company $90,000 for mistakes made by the Department of Motor Vehicles. And it imposed a $30,000 fine on a company that failed to file a diesel emissions report.

Clearly, CARB has long enjoyed getting its own way. As the ultimate implementer of AB 32 — the law that brings forth cap-and-trade — CARB was to become one of the most powerful agencies in state history.

Well, not so fast.

Court Decision

Last week, Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith agreed with the activists against CARB. “ARB seeks to create a fait accompli by premature establishment of a cap-and-trade program before alternatives can be exposed to public comment and properly evaluated by ARB itself,” Goldsmith ruled. He then ordered CARB to stop its plans to implement cap-and-trade until it studied alternative ways to cut greenhouse gases.

Plaintiffs in the suit were ecstatic. “Allowing the most entrenched polluters to increase pollution violates our environmental rights and is not the way to sop poisoning our air and slow catastrophic climate change,” Bill Gallegos, executive director of the Oakland-based Communities for a Better Environment, said in a March 21 statement. “ARB was dogmatic in its focus on cap-and-trade even though it is not effective in reducing greenhouse gases, increases pollution in heavily polluted low-income communities and communities of color, and misses the opportunity to create jobs in California. Now the ARB has a chance to do it right and consider real alternatives to pollution trading.”

As for CARB’s response to Goldsmith’s ruling, let’s just say it’s completely in character.

“We disagree with the court’s decision and intend to appeal,” said Stanley Young, CARB’s Director of Communications, in a statement. “The court did not rule in favor of any of the plaintiffs’ arguments against cap and trade. The record of the cap and trade rulemaking (not challenged in this case), including findings of the Health Impact Analysis, demonstrates that claims of environmental harm from a program of tradable allowances for greenhouse gases are unfounded.”

Of course, Young also wrote that last year CARB “completed a robust and comprehensive examination of alternatives to cap and trade with a 500 page environmental analysis.”

Anyone care to guess what the study found in regards to the feasibility of cap-and-trade?

–Anthony Pignataro

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  1. Tylerle13
    Tylerle13 23 March, 2011, 13:29

    Well if their “Analysis” was compiled by Hein Tran, it probably comes to the conclusion that CARB’s implementation of “Cap & Trade” will cure Cancer, turn water to wine, drop CA unemployment rates to -4%, and turn lead into gold. CARB wont pay attention to the ruling, they never listened to anyone in the past, they sure as hell wont start now. Its kind of funny that CARB is so corrupt that other Enviro groups dont even trust them.

    Mary Nichols is one of the most unbelievably corrupt & hypocritical people I have even seen in my life. Her husband was a lawyer that DEFENDED Exxon after the Exxon-Valdeze Oil Spill, and Nichols & Her Husband have made substantial amounts of money from their stock portfolio loaded with Evil Oil Companies, Dirty Coal Mining companies, Coal Transporting Railroad companies, etc. If she cared so much about curbing pollution, she wouldnt have been profiting from it for decades.

    This lady is guilty of so many cover up within CARB, yet she still remains in power. She knowingly used fraudulent reports over and over again to ram rod her crazy laws, yet no punishment is handed down. She let Hein Tran keep his job(Along with the $95K+ Salary) even after it is revealed that he lied about having a degree, tried to defraud her with an mail order degree after he was exposed, and compiled a “Report” that was regularly off by more than 100%-300% which she used to kill off thousands of jobs in this state. She ignores any scientific evidence that proves her wrong, then calls in favors to get scientists fired if they dare speak up against her.

    Mary Nichols is responsible for Billions of Dollars in economic damage to the state of California and will continue steam rolling the little people unless she is removed from office. She cannot be trusted to properly research her own employees qualifications(Or the accuracy of their work), there is no way she should be trusted to fairly regulate an entire state.

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  2. Ventura Capitalist
    Ventura Capitalist 25 March, 2011, 07:03

    This woman is sickening, with all due respect.

    Rule by administrative agency is one of the cornerstones of fillthy progressivism and is as un-American and anti-Constitution as the rest of their garbage.

    This country was founded on the principle of separation of powers in a number of different directions. The Progressives in the early 20th century (and to this day) have been dedicated to tearing up the Constitution and having our lives run by government “technocrats,” supposedly beyond the reach of political power and corruption.

    In fact these state boards (and now Federal agencies under Obama) are not made up of apolitical technical experts; they are unelected, unaccountable partisan political hacks and are totally corrupt. They act as rule maker, regulator, investigator, enforcer, judge, jury, executioner and undertaker.

    Our Constitution separates these powers to protect our liberty. Their leftist “living constitution” consolidates these powers in corrupt little tin horn bureaucrats.

    We have got to take back our country from them.

    Read about The Birth of the Administrative State:
    http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2007/11/The-Birth-of-the-Administrative-State-Where-It-Came-From-and-What-It-Means-for-Limited-Government

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