ARB Denying Injunction?

Katy Grimes: California air regulators have been ordered to conduct a new environmental review before a judge will approve the cap-and-trade pollution program, with a final order expected in about a week, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday.

A rational, knowledgable environmental expert friend sent me the following information about today’s alarming press release from the California Air Resources Board.

From a non-judicial reading of the court’s last two orders, it appears that the ARB does not believe that the injunction on the AB 32 scoping plan activities applies to them, and that they can negotiate with the plaintiffs, who have said that they don’t want to negotiate.

In a LA Times article yesterday, the plaintiffs seem to be very clear about what they want: “The six environmental groups that brought the court case would not agree to narrow the scope of the court order,” said Adrienne Bloch, an attorney for Communities for a Better Environment, a group that has battled air pollution around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. “We think if the air board does the proper analysis, it will find that cap-and-trade is not the best option,” Bloch said.

However, this directly conflicts with what the ARB said in the press release: “ARB does not believe it is petitioners’ intent to put on hold the many measures in the Scoping Plan now underway in California to develop cleaner energy and protect public health, such as efforts to improve energy efficiency, establish clean car standards, and enforce low carbon fuel regulations.”

One of these statements doesn’t look like the other.

The ARB consistently ignores the legislature with what seems to be impunity.  Despite numerous internal requests, the ARB is unwilling to brief the legislature on why they think that they are now above listening to the judiciary, as well.

Without exposing the board to any legal liabilities, it should be easy to explain to the legislature why the board doesn’t have to comply with the injunction immediately, especially if the plaintiffs do not look like they are going to budge with their request.  It seems to me that at the minimum, the ARB should be doing nothing on scoping plan activities except for putting together another and more thorough FED until the judge issues another clarifying order (which will most likely be identical to the last two in scope), another judge stays the order or you are successful in an appeal—none of which you have currently a reality.

There is a word for this: hubris.

I’ll add a second:  Outrageous.

“This is a temporary stumble,” said Ann Carlson, a UCLA environmental law professor. “The court decision doesn’t tell the air board it must adopt a carbon tax — only that it must analyze a tax as a potential alternative,” the Times reported.

Hmmm… More hubris?

MAR. 24, 2011

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