We have followed the proceedings in the environmental justice case against the California Air Resources Board’s Cap and Trade Program in prior posts. The San Francisco Chronicle reports today that the trial judge has accepted the report from the California Air Resources Board describing its reevaluation and adoption of its alternatives analysis, meeting the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. This should come as no surprise as the agency dotted its i’s and crossed its t’s in giving a more in depth analysis of the alternatives and responding to public comments before making its new decision. Indeed the plaintiffs did not oppose the presentation by the agency. The judge’s brief order ending the writ proceeding can be seen at this link: return of writ-Page0-3
Note that the plaintiffs still plan to pursue their appeal of the trial’s judge’s decision finding the program in compliance with the substantive requirements of California’s climate change law. In particular, the plaintiffs question whether cap-and-trade is the most effective option and comports with the environmental justice elements in the law. The challenge for the plaintiffs, however, will be overcoming the deference courts give to agency discretion in an area of their expertise in what is a very complex regulatory scheme. It was that deference that led a judge who was willing to hold fast to the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act to uphold its compliance with the substantive requirements of the law. We will try to follow developments.