houses1-300x209On Tuesday, the Natural Resources Defense Counsel (NRDC), Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles and Communities for a Better Environment brought a suit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for EPA’s approval of the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (SCAQMD) 2011 Annual Air Quality Monitoring Network Plan on November 1, 2011 (the Air Monitoring Plan). 

The SCAQMD is the air pollution control agency for all of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.  The Air Monitoring Plan describes the network of ambient air quality monitors within the SCAQMD’s jurisdiction (click here for the final plan).  Federal law requires EPA to review the Air Monitoring Plan annually to identify the need to make any changes to the air monitoring requirements. 

Although the environmental groups’ opening brief is not due until the end of March, according to NRDC’s press release, the focus of the suit will be that EPA violated the Clean Air Act by approving the Air Monitoring Plan even though it does not require air quality monitoring along Southern California freeways.  NRDC contends that such monitoring is necessary to “better inform the local air district about the hazardous levels of particulate air pollution, and to arm them with the information necessary to take action to protect the region’s residents.”  The environmental groups are seeking the installation of air monitors along the region’s highways.

Freeway-300x283At the start of the year, California began offering green clean air vehicle decals to purchasers or lessees of cars meeting California’s Enhanced Advanced Partial Zero Emission Vehicle requirements.  These decals enable a single driver to drive in the carpool lane.

California is limiting the number of stickers to 40,000.  The program will last through January 2015.  Ironically, as reported by the Sacramento Bee, there are currently no commercially available cars that meet the criteria to obtain the decal.  However, the 2012 Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid and the 2012 Chevy Volt are expected to qualify.

smoke-stack-197x300As our readers know, we have been following the cap-and-trade regulations both domestically and abroadQuebec recently joined California in adopting a cap-and-trade regulation for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission allowances based on the rules established by the Western Climate Initiative (WCI). WCI is a collaboration of independent jurisdictions, including California, working together to “identify, evaluate and implement emissions trading policies to tackle climate change at a regional level.” Quebec joined WCI in April 2008. 

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Volt-LeafPresident Obama announced today an agreement with thirteen major automakers to commence the next phase of the Administration’s program to increase fuel efficiency standards to 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025. EPA and the Department of Transportation worked with auto manufacturers, the state of California, environmental groups, and other interested parties for several months to ensure that the standards are achievable, cost-effective and preserve consumer choice.

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Volt-LeafAs my colleague posted last month, California’s popular Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) was in jeopardy of running out of funds by this month. The program, funded by California’s Air Resources Board (ARB), provides vouchers or rebates on a first-come, first-served basis toward the purchase of zero-emission or plug-in hybrid cars, and zero-emission or hybrid trucks and buses. This week, ARB approved up to $40 million for the third year of funding for the Air Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), which funds CVRP.

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Polluting StacksOn Monday, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released a Supplement to the environmental analysis (known as the Functional Equivalent Document) of the 2008 AB 32 Scoping Plan. The Supplement provides CARB’s revised analysis of the alternatives to the greenhouse gas reduction measures proposed in the Scoping Plan, including alternatives to the cap-and-trade program.

The Supplement comes in direct response to a San Francisco Superior Court judge’s ruling against CARB. As we have previously blogged (here, here, here, and here), in Association of Irritated Residents v. California Air Resources Board (a case brought by environmental groups against CARB), the court ruled that CARB violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in its original environmental analysis of the alternatives to the greenhouse gas reduction measures proposed in the Scoping Plan. In its press-release and the Supplement itself, CARB is quick to point out that it “disagrees with the trial court finding and has appealed the decision.” However, CARB decided to revisit the alternatives “to remove any doubt in the matter.”

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RiverThis week, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) does not give a federal district court jurisdiction to adjudicate claims for past noncompliance with an order issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The decision, Pakootas v. Teck Cominco Metals, Ltd., affirms that CERCLA’s citizen suit provision cannot be used to second guess an ongoing CERCLA cleanup action.

From 1905 to 1995, slag from defendant Teck Cominco Metals Limited’s (Teck Cominco) smelter located in British Columbia was dumped into the Columbia River, ten miles north of the border with Washington. The pollution flowed downstream from Canada into the United States. In 1999, parties petitioned EPA to investigate the environmental contamination in the Columbia River and Lake Roosevelt. In 2003, EPA determined that the site was eligible for inclusion on CERCLA’s so-called “Superfund List” as a top priority for cleanup.
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BuildingIn honor of Earth Day, we thought we’d share some of the steps that Greenberg Glusker has taken to be more green.

Last year, Greenberg Glusker completed its office remodel in true green fashion. We recycled and reused materials from the old office design whenever possible, which resulted in using recycled or reused materials for nearly 95 percent of the remodel. We also used bamboo, one of the approved sustainable materials in green design, throughout the new office. We used recycled materials for the carpeting and the modular furniture, and used sustainable products for some of the fabrics used in the furniture and wall covering. To conserve energy, we installed motion sensors in all of the office spaces so that the lights turn off when the rooms are not occupied. Appliances in the kitchens and lounge areas are 5 Star rated for energy efficiency. Finally, to conserve water we installed low-flush toilets.
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DesertAs our regular readers know, we have been closely following California’s efforts toward mandating green building requirements both state-wide (through CalGreen) and locally.

In a sure sign that green building is here to stay, the Kayenta Township, a political subdivision of the Navajo Nation located in Arizona, recently became the first tribal community in the United States to adopt the International Green Construction Code (IGCC).
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Shannon GroveCalifornia Assemblywoman Shannon Grove recently introduced Assembly Bill 333, which seeks to delay California’s AB 32, commonly known as the Global Warming Solutions Act. Adopted in 2006, the Global Warming Solutions Act aims to reduce California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The act tasked the California Air Resources Board (CARB) with implementing this goal. CARB’s efforts to date include the recent adoption of cap and trade regulations.

According to Assemblywoman Grove’s press release, AB 333 “will relieve California business from the costly and burdensome regulations associated with AB32 until the unemployment rate in the county where the business resides falls below 7% for six consecutive months.”
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