CLIMATE CHANGE ROUNDUP: CARB Rejects Ruling Challenging Scoping Plan

By Published On: February 11, 2011

The California Air Resources Board challenged last week’s superior court tentative ruling holding the agency’s climate protection scoping plan does not satisfy state law. In a Feb. 8 response, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, on behalf of the Air Board, concluded that Judge Ernest Goldsmith’s ruling ignored evidence in the record. That evidence, she maintains, supports the agency’s plan laying the groundwork for a state carbon cap-and-trade market to help reach greenhouse gas reduction targets. The San Francisco Superior Court judge held the Air Board’s analysis of alternatives to a carbon trading scheme fell short of California Environmental Quality Act requirements (Current, Feb. 4, 2011). The attorney general’s brief also states Goldsmith’s ruling is “ambiguous” and “erroneously dismisses the commitment by CARB to a more detailed analysis of alternatives to a cap and trade” market. The state further takes issue with the ruling for what the attorney general calls an ambiguous remedy, warning that undermining the Air Board’s work could impact existing regulations that reduce carbon emissions, including the state’s vehicle tailpipe emissions law, energy efficiency efforts, and air quality improvements The Association of Irritated Residents, Communities for a Better Environment, and several environmental justice advocates brought the suit. * * * * * SoCal Gas and the city of Escondido Feb. 8 began injecting cleaned-up biogas produced at the municipality’s wastewater treatment plant into the utility’s pipeline for use in homes and businesses. The two said the new practice would reduce their carbon footprints while providing enough gas to serve some 1,200 homes. The utility characterized the project as a test of new technology that uses a multi-stage process to filter out impurities in the gas that normally make it unfit for customer use. Because of the contaminants, raw gas from sewage treatment facilities usually is flared. The $2.7 million demonstration project of up to 12 months seeks to prove that the purification technology can cost-effectively produce renewable natural gas that meets California standards. If it works, the equipment will be kept in place and used on an ongoing basis. The demonstration project is funded by the utility’s research and development group. * * * * * California defended its goal of working with the federal government to set aggressive greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars beginning with the 2017 model year amid charges by the Auto Alliance that the California Air Resources Board is rushing to go it alone. The standards are expected to propel electric cars into the market, requiring utilities to expand vehicle charging infrastructure. In a letter to automakers Feb. 7, Air Board chair Mary Nichols said correspondence sent by the Auto Alliance to House Republican leaders last month mischaracterizes the agency’s actions. “For the Alliance to suggest we are no longer committed to cooperative effort is disingenuous at best, and incorrect,” Nichols wrote. The disagreement broke into public view after the Air Board and federal agencies late last month announced they plan to jointly propose standards in September. The standards would ratchet up fuel efficiency from the 35.5 miles per gallon fleet average required under existing rules by 2016 to a yet unspecified level. The Auto Alliance stated the “best way” to achieve additional greenhouse reductions “is for the [Obama] administration to continue the single national program.” * * * * * The Orange County Register wants Representative Darrel Issa (R-CA) to launch a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee probe that re-examines “to what degree human activities are creating catastrophic global warming.” The paper, in an editorial late last month, called on Issa to bring in “scientists untainted by advocacy and uncompromised through receiving taxes or private funding.” The newspaper said Issa, who chairs the panel, should start by critically examining what it called suspect temperature data that show warming over the past 100 years. It noted some scientists criticize the temperature data as highly inaccurate and uncertain.

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