On May 20, 2011, Judge Ernest Goldsmith of the Superior Court of California issued a judgment that orders the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) to stop implementing a cap-and-trade program until the board analyzes alternatives to the cap-and-trade program as part of the agency’s scoping plan. The judge also found that CARB “committed a prejudicial abuse of discretion” by violating the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) by approving a scoping plan before the agency responded to comments and completed the environmental review.

In March 2011, Judge Goldsmith issued an order halting all greenhouse gas (“GHG”) regulations under state law AB 32 due to CARB’s failure to follow procedural requirements, including completion of a scoping plan that evaluated alternatives to AB 32 (see March 21, 2011 edition of the WER). An example of an alternative cited by the Judge Goldsmith is a carbon tax. AB 32 required the state to reduce GHG emissions down to 1990 levels by the year 2020. Although the recent decision enjoins CARB from engaging in cap-and-trade related activities, CARB is still allowed to move forward on a majority of AB 32 initiatives. CARB announced that the agency disagreed with the most recent decision, and an appeal was immediately filed with the Court.

Additionally, in New Jersey, Governor Christie announced his intention to have New Jersey exit the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”), dealing a setback to the RGGI program.

A copy of the recent California judgment is available here.