Wednesday, October 24, 2012
By Julie Caine
(KALW - San Francisco) The future of California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions law is being called into question.
Implementation of the law was delayed earlier this year by a U.S. District Court judge in Fresno, who ruled that the regulations violate the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. A three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments from both sides of the debate last week.
At issue is the “Low Carbon Standard”—regulations that require fuel producers to meet California’s emissions standards, or pay a penalty in the state’s cap and trade system. Fuel, farm and trucking industry lawyers argue that the law violates the federal commerce clause because the law reaches across state borders, effectively favoring California-based producers over out-of-state competitors, whose fuel may not meet the state’s strict emission requirements.
The California Air Resources Board, the agency responsible for implementing the regulations, says the law is intended to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990s levels by the year 2020. Lawyers representing the state and environmental groups argue that the California law is the only way to reach these goals.
Sean Donahue, an Environmental Defense Fund attorney who presented oral arguments to the appeals court, said that at its core, the law is about regulating greenhouse gas emissions by focusing on the entire life cycle of the fuel. “It’s not based on where the fuel is from, but is based on the effect on the climate,” Donahue said.
Peter Keisler, a fuel industry attorney, told the court, “Even if there is no discrimination, you still have a regulatory scheme whose purpose is to penalize imports, to penalize out-of-state conduct in an effort to control in-state emissions.”
The three-judge panel asked tough questions during the appeal, including a focus on language in the law that seemed to point to favoring California employment and tax revenues.
"Isn’t this unambiguous evidence that the board was motivated by protectionism?” asked 9th Circuit Court Judge Mary Murguia.
The panel now moves on to consider the oral and written arguments in the case before issuing a written opinion, a process that could take many months.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
By Kate Hinds
A federal appeals court Tuesday said the Environmental Protection Agency was "unambiguously correct" in using existing federal law to limit greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
Several industry groups -- as well as the state of Texas -- had argued that the science behind climate change was uncertain, and that the EPA lacked the legal authority to use the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from factories, power plants, and automobile tailpipes.
But the court unanimously rejected that view. "This is how science works," the judges wrote in the 82-page decision (pdf). "EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question."
The opinion cites not only a previous Supreme Court ruling but also Schoolhouse Rock. (“As a generation of schoolchildren knows, 'by that time, it’s very unlikely that [a bill will] become a law. It’s not easy to become a law.'")
Read the decision here.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
The Supreme Court unanimously agreed yesterday to reject a lawsuit brought on by six states, New York City, and several land trusts, seeking to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from major power plants. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that under the Clean Air Act, the case must be addressed by the Environmental Protection Agency, rather than by the courts. The Supreme Court maintains their 2007 ruling that only the EPA can dictate regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, but meanwhile Congress is trying to strip the EPA of its very ability to regulate these emissions.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Want to understand why NJ Governor Chris Christie exited the 10-state cap and trade program? Listen here:
Thursday, May 26, 2011
(New York, NY -- Ilya Marritz, WNYC) UPDATED WITH VIDEO New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is withdrawing New Jersey from a greenhouse gas emissions reduction program by the end of the year.
The cap-and-trade program — the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative — requires power plants in 10 northeast states to buy emissions credits for every ton of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
In recent months, Christie cast doubt on the science of global warming, and eliminated the state's Office of Climate Change.
"The whole system is not working as it was intended to work," Christie said. "It is a failure."
But State Senate President Steve Sweeney said the program "has wide-spread support and its principles are largely endorsed by the people of New Jersey. Removing New Jersey from RGGI can only cause harm to our state’s environment."
The New Jersey Sierra Club called the move "an environmental disaster."
Proceeds from the program have been used to fund energy efficiency and environmental programs. Last year, Christie raided the fund to help balance the state's budget.
Here's the video from Christie's office -- note the headline, "NJ's Future is Green," is Christie's office's own spin on the announcement.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
By Ilya Marritz
Snagged a few minutes today with former Governor George Pataki, at a conference his law firm was hosting on "smart grid" energy transmission (standing room only, hundreds of lawyers in suits, this area looks hot...seriously.)
Unlike some Congressional Republicans, Pataki is strongly supportive of the Obama administration's push ...