The beleaguered California Air Resources Board staff announced this week it is delaying work on a sweeping carbon cap-and-trade rule under the state’s climate protection law, AB 32. Air Board assistant executive officer Kevin Kennedy attributed the delay to “current economic conditions.” Businesses and Republican legislators have hammered the Air Board for months and are near qualifying a ballot measure for the November election to suspend AB 32. It would bar enforcement of greenhouse gas reductions until the state’s unemployment rate falls from the prevailing 12.6 percent to 5.5 percent. “The state’s citizens understand that implementing AB 32 at the right time in the right way is not an anti-environment position,” stated California Manufacturers & Technology Association vice president Gino DiCaro. Californians, he said, know the law can improve the economy with green jobs, but not unless other states and nations do the same. The agency is still proceeding with a carbon cap-and-trade program, insisted Board spokesperson Stanley Young, adding staff decided to seek more public input before writing a complete set of rules to govern the program. The Air Board’s implementation also is slowing down after the governor suggested it move carefully on a carbon cap-and-trade program. He urged the agency to allocate most emissions rights under any program for free at first and make sure there is “an ample supply of high quality offsets” to keep the price of the program low (Current, March 26, 2010). The initial plan was to issue a nearly complete draft of carbon cap-and-trade regulations last month--and adopt them before the end of this year. The agency’s staff now intends to hold a series of meetings to gather more public advice on how to proceed, according to Kennedy. The Air Board plans to provide a status update on the controversial cap-and-trade plan at the first meeting, set for May 17. At that meeting staff “will present ideas for providing a smooth transition for the start of the cap-and-trade program in light of current economic conditions,” Kennedy said. He added the Air Board plans to present a number of options for going forward, but noted the success of AB 32 hinges on “the ability of California businesses and residents to invest in energy efficiency and clean energy.” A cap-and-trade program must not hinder that investment, he added.