San Francisco Superior Court judge Ernest Goldsmith smacked down plans by the California Air Resources Board to implement its AB32, Global warming Solutions Act, “scoping plan” because he said CARB failed to follow the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because its environmental review failed to adequately consider alternatives to its proposed cap and trade approach.
In essence, the judge said CARB had already made up its mind and its actions to implement the scoping plan “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 the ARB itself.” Judge Goldsmith found that CARB’s “analysis provides no evidence to support its chosen approach,” and its action “undermines CEQA’s goal of informed decision-making.”
Adding insult to injury for CARB the lawsuit pending before Judge Goldsmith was filed by the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, a San Francisco environmental justice group that seeks more specific remedies from the court such as ordering reductions in specific harmful emissions in specific neighborhoods.
CARB has until Tuesday to respond to the preliminary ruling, but if it is ordered by the Court the effect could be considerable delay in implementing AB32.
The delay could be just a temporary hiccup in the implementation of AB32, according to environmental blog Legal Planet since the since CARB won on the merits on all the plaintiffs specific claims challenging the scoping plan. The Judge’s decision is narrowly cast to apply to the CEQA environmental review process. CARB would certainly appeal any injunction issued but it probably will have to fix the procedural problems before it moves forward with implementation.