Last week, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), in an unanimous vote, adopted the final regulation for its controversial cap-and-trade program, which serves as the centerpiece of the state’s landmark greenhouse gas reduction law, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, Assembly Bill AB 32 (AB 32).The program, which has had to overcome hurdles in both the court room and on the ballot during a multi-year development process, will cover some 600 facilities that emit 85% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.The program is being rolled out in phases with the first compliance phase beginning in 2013, covering all major industrial sources along with electric utilities. The second compliance phase, beginning in 2015, will include distributors of transportation fuels, natural gas and other fuels.
Earlier this month, the lower house of Australia’s parliament (think House of Representatives) passed a series of bills, including the Clean Energy Bill 2011, by a vote of 74 to 72. The bill is known as the “carbon tax.” Starting in July of 2012, approximately 500 of the biggest emitters in the country will be required to pay A$23 (approximately $23 USD) per metric ton of carbon emissions they produce. Then in 2015, a market based trading system will take over.
Australia is the biggest exporter of coal in the world and approximately 80% of its electricity is generated by coal. It is one of the biggest per capita greenhouse gas emitting countries in the world. The bill’s goals include a 5% reduction in carbon emissions from the levels in 2000 by 2020 and an 80% reduction by the year 2050.
Stating that it was “time for big thinking and big projects that put Californians back to work,” Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law two bills, AB 900 and SB 292, aimed at streamlining the judicial review process for large-scale development projects. Introduced in the final days of the legislative session, AB 900, the Jobs and Economic Improvement Through Environmental Leadership Act of 2011, amends the state’s landmark environmental protection law, the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”), to allow litigants to bypass superior court trials and have environmental legal challenges to certain “environmental leadership projects” heard directly by the Court of Appeal under a shortened decision-making time frame.
We have brought you the blow-by-blow action in this case (here, here, here, and here), and as we blogged, CARB’s implementation of the Scoping Plan was temporarily halted earlier in the year when the San Francisco County Superior Court ordered CARB to set aside its approval of the plan as it relates to cap-and-trade and complete a more thorough review of alternatives to the plan’s proposed reduction measures. CARB appealed the Superior Court’s substantive decision as well as the injunction halting CARB’s work on the Scoping Plan during the appeal. The Appellate Court granted CARB’s petition for a writ of supersedeas, staying the Superior Court’s Writ of Mandate and allowing CARB to move forward with its cap-and-trade rulemaking while the appeal proceeds. This is the decision that the Suprem
e Court affirmed last Wednesday.