Posted by Prof. Alan Ramo
In prior postings for this blog, my student colleagues and I have commented on California’s greenhouse gas regulatory regime, known as AB 32, and specifically on its auction proceeds and their potential use to address environmental justice issues relating to the AB 32′s Cap-And-Trade program. See also this post and this post. When the Air Resources Board’s Mary Nichols reportedly said that Governor Brown has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to work on a more comprehensive approach to environmental justice issues, and the Board “would consider a fund drawn from carbon trading revenues to improve environmental conditions in low-income communities”, we said we would “follow whether CARB is providing more than lip service to environmental justice.” Continue reading
By Prof. Alan Ramo; Research Assistance by Allyson Umberger
The era of international linkages and offsets as an integral part of California’s Cap-And-Trade program under its AB 32’s global warming regulatory regime is upon us. While this development may have not been widely anticipated in the run up to the auction inaugurating Cap-And-Trade, recent events have made this new development abundantly clear.
Most notably, the California Air Resources Board has adopted a linkage with Quebec, Canada’s program. This follows the Governor Jerry Brown’s findings in a formal letter to the Legislature that the program will be consistent with AB 32’s requirements, as discussed in this Legal Planet blog by UCLA Prof. Ann Carlson.
But Quebec is just the beginning. This blog author participated in a third workshop evaluating a state sponsored working group’s recommendations for linkages to Chiapas in Mexico and Acre in Brazil to provide forestry offsets in California. The draft REDD Offset Working Group (“ROW”) recommendations are available here. Meanwhile, Governor Jerry Brown visited China and may be setting the stage for a future linkage with one of that vast nation’s provinces and perhaps beyond. Continue reading
By Allyson Umberger, 3rd Year Law Student
In January, California Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled his proposal for the use of climate change fees in the 2013-2014 budget. His proposal was not entirely well received, and it is causing some legal debate in Sacramento. The proposal sets aside $649,000 from the fees that businesses pay for the state’s climate change programs to be used to add five new positions at the Housing and Community Development Department (HCD);[i] however, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office does not think this expenditure is a legal use of the funds, a position raised in their review of the budget, which was released on February 19. Continue reading
I have short comments in CEB’s Real Property Law Reporter January 2012 edition. They are:
CEQA’s Slippery Slope of Performance Standards: Two Recent Cases Help (A Little)
Can Greenhouse Gas Polluters Be Sued for Damages Under Federal Public Nuisance Common Law?
An earlier piece on Sackett v. EPA (2012) and its impact on EPA enforcement for 35 Real Property Law Reporter 78 is available here.
Paul Stanton Kibel (Associate Professor and CUEL Co-Director, Golden Gate University School of Law)
With its October 2012 ruling in Preserve Wild Santee v. City of Santee (Wild Santee), the California Court of Appeal issued a decision that may expand the concept of “paper water” under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 2012 Wild Santee CEQA Decision In this case, the Court suggested that a CEQA environmental impact report (EIR) must evaluate alternatives to a proposed water supply source for a major development when the availability of that source is uncertain due to court-imposed restrictions on out-of-stream diversions imposed pursuant to the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Wild Santee is the latest installment in a line of CEQA cases handed down over the past decade that concern the question of “paper water.” The term paper water is shorthand for quantities of water supply that exist in contract terms but are not or may not be actually available for use. Paper water is often contrasted with “wet” or “real” water. The two most important previous CEQA paper water cases leading up to Wild Santee were the California Court of Appeals 2003 decision in SCOPE 2003 SCOPE CEQA Decision and the California Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Vineyard Area Citizens. 2007 Vineyard CEQA Decision Continue reading
By Allyson Umberger*; Edited by Prof. Alan Ramo**
In a landmark decision published on February 14, 2013, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted to apply the sale proceeds of surplus sulfur dioxide allowances from the now-closed Mohave Generating Station (Mohave) to renewable energy projects that will benefit the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation, two Native American tribes affected by the operation and closure of Mohave (decision available here). These renewable energy projects can contribute to Southern California Edison (SCE)’s portfolio, enabling SCE to meet its Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) procurement obligations. At the same time, the projects can mitigate what the CPUC described as the “devastating effects on the Hopi and Navajo people and tribes as a whole, as well as on the workers at the Mohave facility, at the mines, and on the pipeline” as a result of the closure of Mohave. Continue reading
By Allyson Umberger, 3rd Year GGU Law Student; Edited by Prof. Ramo
In March 2012, the authors of this blog posted an article about a lawsuit brought by non-profit groups Citizens Climate Lobby and Our Children’s Earth Foundation (“Petitioners”) challenging the California Air Resources Board’s (“CARB”) implementation of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (known as AB 32), the greenhouse gas regulatory regime, in the Superior Court of California, San Francisco County [blog article retrievable here]. That article discussed the validity of the Petitioners’ argument that CARB’s methodology for allowing offsets in its Cap-And-Trade program was illegal, the unusually large potential role played by offsets and the likelihood of success with the Court.
Last week, the Court released its Tentative Statement of Decision [retrievable here] on the plaintiffs’ Petition for Writ of Mandate [retrievable here]. The Court denied the Writ, in large part deferring to CARB’s expertise and rejecting the notion that offsets must provide assurance that they are entirely and perfectly additional. Continue reading
Posted by Prof. Ramo
Given the push by industry groups to reform California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) statute (for example see yesterday’s column by two San Francisco Bay Area business groups) blog readers may want to read my newly published article on environmental justice and environmental review statutes, in particular NEPA and CEQA. The article, “Environmental Justice as an Essential Tool in Environmental Review Statutes, A New Look at Federal Policies and Civil Rights Protections and California’s Recent Initiatives” (why have a short title when a long one will work as well), published in Hastings West Northwest Journal of Environmental Law, contends that environmental justice is well served by these statutes and integral to their operation. It may suggest what may be lost if CEQA is badly “reformed.” The link is Ramo WxNW Env Journal Article Winter 2013
Posted by Prof. Alan Ramo
California finally held its long awaited auction for the final 10% of carbon allowances not already given away for free as part of its global warming cap-and-trade regulatory regime. All allowances were sold, however the price was barely above the minimum $10 per ton, $10.09. The San Francisco Chronicle article today summarizes well the auction protocols, the results, and the rapid spin doctoring being done by government officials, brokers and one of the leading advocates for cap-and-trade, the Environmental Defense Fund. Bottom line, it all went smoothly and we never expected to make any money from it, though the article notes that the results were “less than many analysts expected.” The price however, suggests a bleaker take on the success of the auction. Continue reading
Posted by Prof. Ramo
We have been remiss in not earlier noting that California Governor Jerry Brown on September 30, 2012, signed SB 535, which assures at least 25% of the proceeds from auctioning allowances in California’s Cap-And-Trade program will be directed towards low-income communities. We have previously commented on charges that Cap-And-Trade discriminates against low-income communities of color. We have also commented on the failure of the legislature to assure that those communities who fear that they will miss out on the benefits of Cap-And-Trade, and may experience the worse of climate change impacts, should get in return funds generated by the program to mitigate these impacts. Brown also signed AB 1532, which sets up the process for determining how those funds will actually be used. Continue reading