Court could put California climate law on hold

Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:19pm GMT
 

 * Group says 'Climate Law Implementation to Halt'
 * California law seen as vanguard U.S. climate effort
 * State judge holds key -- he writes detailed order
 By Rory Carroll and Peter Henderson
 WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO, March 31 (Reuters) - An
environmental justice group which has won a court ruling on
Thursday said California's entire landmark climate change law
may be put on hold after talks with regulators broke down.
 The suit threatens the most aggressive climate change
policy in the nation, California's 2006 omnibus law which
covers vehicle pollution, generation of clean energy such as
solar and wind, and even building policy as well as a carbon
market, which is the core of the court case. Fans and foes of
attempts to stop global warming around the globe are watching
California's efforts.
 The fate of the law, including the outlook for new vehicle
fuel standards and clean energy targets, is still in the hands
of a San Francisco judge who has asked the environmental group
to draft a detailed order. The state says it will appeal.
 A market for greenhouse gases called cap-and-trade is due
to begin on January 1, 2012, but the initial March 18 ruling
has led some to believe it may be delayed.
 The Association of Irritated Residents who brought the case
fear the oldest, highest polluting facilities in California
could continue or increase their pollution, harming the least
affluent parts of the state even if better-off areas prosper.
 The parties met privately on Wednesday to discuss how to
proceed in the wake of the broadly worded March 18 San
Francisco Superior Court ruling that the California Air
Resources Board violated state law by failing to properly
consider alternatives to setting up a carbon market.
 The climate change law is known as AB 32.
 "We were unable to reach an agreement with the Air
Resources Board that would allow the good parts -- the great
majority of the measures -- of AB 32 to proceed," Caroline
Farrell, Executive Director of the Center on Race, Poverty &
the Environment, said in a statement. "The Air Resources Board
is driving AB 32 off a cliff."
 A spokesman for the state said the board took the ruling
seriously, intended to more fully consider alternatives to a
cap-and-trade carbon market, and would appeal the final order.
 The environmental group declined to say exactly how they
would draft the order but announced the breakdown of talks in a
statement entitled "Climate Law Implementation to Halt."
 Whether the judge will issue the order as crafted by the
group or modify it is unclear said Jon Costantino, A former
CARB engineer who works at law firm Manatt Phelps & Phillips
and has been following the case.
 Ultimately though, he expected the Air Resources Board to
be able to put together the analysis of alternatives to cap and
trade, which is the crux of the judge's request, in a matter of
weeks.
 "There are a lot of unknowns, but ARB is still progressing
with the view that they are going to make their deadlines," he
said. The cap-and-trade plan is due to start at the beginning
of 2012.
 Emilie Mazzacurati, head of North American Carbon Research
at Thomson Reuters Point Carbon, said the breakdown in the
negotiation raises the stakes for CARB's appeal of the ruling.
 But an attempt broadly to halt the climate law could have
the unintended effect of making it easier for the state to win
an appeals court agreement to put the ruling on hold pending
appeal, she said.
 (Reporting by Point Carbon reporter Rory Carroll in Washington
and Reuters reporter Peter Henderson in San Francisco;editing
by Sofina Mirza-Reid)


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