Association Of Irritated Residents Defeats California Air Resources Board’s Global Warming Plan

There is strange news out of California. A San Francisco Superior Court judge has stayed the California Air Resources Board (ARB) plan to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs). Judge Ernest Goldsmith says that the ARB did not adequately consider public input for the plan. The ARB says it will spend a significant amount of taxpayers’ money to appeal Judge Goldsmith’s decision.

These decisions do not mean what you think they do.

California, in 2006, passed the Global Warming Solutions Act which mandated that the ARB prepare and implement a “Climate Change Scoping Plan” to regulate GHGs. Emission levels by 2020 were supposed to be reduced to 1990 levels (this is difficult, considering levels in 1990 were not directly nor comprehensively measured).

The Association Of Irritated Residents—and other groups like the California Communities Against Toxics, and the Society for Positive Action—did not like the ARB’s Scoping Plan, chiefly because the Association Of Irritated Residents et al. did not find their recommendations in the final version of the Scoping Plan. But the Irritated were also sour that the ARB was “excluding whole sectors of the economy from GHG emissions controls.” (All quotes are from Judge Goldsmith’s decision.)

In other words, these special interest citizens groups sued because they did not feel the ARB was going far enough. They want more regulation, not less.

Part of their complaint alleges—and I want you to follow me closely here—that the ARB was only going to mandate “the minimum amount of reductions required to achieve the goal [of reductions to 1990 levels], not the maximum reductions” possible. The Irritated wanted more than the minimum required reductions: they wanted the “maximum technologically feasible reductions.”

Again, the Irritated want more regulation, not less.

Another matter that irked the Irritated was the ARB was going to exclude companies and individuals in the agricultural sector from direct emissions reductions. The ARB reasoned that “reducing emissions from agriculture is problematic because it is a sector comprised of complex biological systems, diverse source types and a complex life cycle analysis.” Indeed, the “Governor’s Climate Action Team estimated that 82 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture involve biological processes associated with complex agro-ecosystems for which there is a substantial gap in scientific knowledge and existing data.”

Not to fear, though, because the ARB was still planning on zinging these companies and individuals, but through “alternative compliance mechanisms, market-based compliance mechanisms” or by using “potential monetary and nonmonetary incentives.”

“Not good enough!” say the Irritated. “Make ’em cut like everybody else.” The perpetually Irritated want more regulation, not less.

At this point, if it hadn’t already, it becomes confusing. The Irritated, already irritated that the ARB was not going to directly enforce cuts on the agricultural sector, were again incensed that the ARB’s plan of not-enforcing-cuts “did not provide any evaluation of whether or not its decision not to mandate agricultural emissions reductions would disproportionately impact low-income communities…”

In other words, the Irritated imagined that by not enforcing direct cuts “low-income communities”—and not the agricultural entities themselves—would be “disproportionately impacted.” They do not say how; this belief appears axiomatic.

The Irritated do not want less regulation, they want more.

His Honor Judge Goldsmith agreed with the Irritated and, in effect, ruled that the ARB has to have another go at their Scoping Plan. I hasten to add that Judge Goldsmith’s ruling is based on certain technicalities about procedures, filing rules, and precedent. And the victory wasn’t complete for the Irritated: parts of the case went the ARB’s way. And with the ARB’s appeal and fine-tuning of it new rules, it is far from clear that the Irritated, though they took the day, will the war.

The Irritated have their hands full anyway. According to the site Justia.com, which tracks lawsuits, the Irritated are also suing the Fred Schakel Dairy Farm (over cow farts), the C&R Vanderham Dairy (same reason), Foster Farms (same), the EPA (a number of different reasons), and other groups who violated the Irritated’s sense of environmental righteousness.

18 Comments

  1. The ruling was, I think, that ARB didn’t adequately respond (as required under CEQA). How can anyone prove that they didn’t review the inputs? In any case, looking at the Statement of Decision, the court chose to cut the baby in half by halting the whole thing until ARB does respond to the inputs. IOW: they can’t do any of what they had planned until that time. I’ll bet that’s not what the Ass. of Irritated Citizens really wanted.

  2. The Fred Schakel Dairy Farm (object of an Irritated suit) is located in Tulare County, California. The reported unemployment rate in Tulare county (January 2011) was 18.3 percent.
    http://www.recorderonline.com/articles/tulare-44615-unemployment-county.html

    In 2005, it was reported that The [dairy]industry was worth $1.4 billion last year in Tulare County, the country’s leading dairy county.
    http://www.valleyair.org/Recent_news/News_Clippings/2005/In%20the%20News%20-%20June%2020%202005.pdf

    Meanwhile,

    The CMAB [California Milk Advisory Board]was formed in 1969 to promote California dairy products in an ever-growing and competitive marketplace. It operates on the principle that a healthy dairy industry is just as important to consumers as it is to milk producers, and that the ready availability of California dairy products contributes to the good health and well-being of the state’s population.

    I’m sure you’ve seen the ads.
    http://www.realcaliforniamilk.com/about/cmab/

    I wonder if the un- and under-employed agricultural workers in Tulare County are more irritated than the Association of Irritated Residents.

    For those interested in …scientific research, technical support, and education on current and emerging air quality issues in rural areas of California and the US.
    http://animalscience.ucdavis.edu/faculty/mitloehner/publications/Index.htm

  3. In 1992 I was listening to a San Francisco radio station talk show discussing the excessive regulation on businesses. A caller called in who had moved his business from California to another state. His arguement was that regulation and high taxes drove him and his business from California and that it caused other businesses to leave as well. The talk show host was a liberal and essentially told the caller “so what! Good riddance! It doesn’t matter because the population of California grows every year so who needs him. The caller replied that it is the productive people who are leaving, the people who build businesses and create jobs. And that the influx into California were the poor from other states seeking better welfare benefits and illegal aliens who don’t pay their taxes and take jobs from the middle and lower classes. The host didn’t get it. He probably doesn’t get it even now.

    California has only one chance; and that is if every other state borrows and spends more then they can afford and passes even more anti-business regulations. THEN California has a chance to attract businesses and productive people.

  4. Evidently the CARB has bought into the fantasy that you can control the climate by dickering with a few parts per million of a trace gas in the atmosphere. The modern version of the luddites will not be happy until they destroy all businesses in California. They know businessmen are all intent on destroying the environment and exploiting workers. When the businesses go elsewhere it will turn California into the equivalent of a third world country.

  5. Well, these people are one of the reasons that we left California, a few years back. We didn’t take any jobs with us, though. But if I was a businessman there, in anything other than a very politically correct, and profitable, industry I think I would take those jobs out.

    I love that last paragraph. 🙂

  6. Ayn Rand would have found this incredibly funny.
    The Association of Irritated Residents is a perfect example of parasites at work.
    Who is John Galt, anyway?

  7. It would be very interesting knowing who is bankrolling these groups. Lawsuits are extremely expensive, and it’s doubtful that an ordinary neighborhood association would pay in excess of $100,000 on what appears to be legal hair-splitting.

    Who is really funding this? George Soros? The WWF? It certainly isn’t your average neighborhood groups pledging their life savings on this eco-nonsense.

  8. Seriously, is personal irritation an excuse to sue the pants of people, looking for legal hush money?

    Who can I sue for my psoriasis?

    WHy are these lawsuites not just thrown out? Makework for lawyers and judges?

  9. Tom Frantz
    Association of Irritated Residents, Save our Shafter
    “People have power when they work together”

    When the 28,000 cow Borba dairies were proposed in Bakersfield and other dairies were proposed even closer to Tom’s home in Shafter, he helped form a group called Save our Shafter to stop the one of the proposed dairies and to educate people about the devastating effects large-scale dairies can have on a community’s health and environment. CRPE represented the organization in a lawsuit against the county and the Vanderham dairy.
    http://www.crpe-ej.org/crpe/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=111%3Atom-frantz&catid=38&Itemid=59

    The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment
    Providing Legal and Technical Assistance to the Grassroots Movement for Environmental Justice
    The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment is a national environmental justice organization with offices in San Francisco and Delano, California. We provide legal, organizing, and technical assistance to grassroots groups in low-income communities and communities of color fighting environmental hazards.
    http://www.crpe-ej.org/crpe/

    Funding:
    http://www.crpe-ej.org/crpe/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=92&Itemid=60

  10. Excellent work, Speed.

    Ah, the Shafter-Wasco-Delano-McFarland quadrant of northern Kern County. What memories that revives! Rugged individualists. Crackpots. Anarchists. Militiamen. Contrarians. Farmers. But I repeat myself. The Association of Irritated Residents is probably the most fitting name for that group I’ve ever run across. Wish I had that acronym available back in the day. Would have worn it out.

  11. This reminds me of what happened down here in Australia last year. The left-leaning Labor Govt proposed a Cap&Trade system to reduce CO2 emmisions, the right-leaning Liberal oppostion dutifully opposed leaving the bills passing to the Greens who had (after a couple of independents had sided with the Liberals) the balance of power and they voted it down. A Green eco-party voting against a plan to reduce C02 — because of couse it didn’t go far enough — so we are still arguing about it and are no closer to a reduction plan. Were the Greens really interested in cutting C02 emmisisons or just in excercising power?

  12. I believe that The Association of Irritated Residents are perfectly logical and correct in their suits against the wicked dairy farmers.

    California will never be able to reduce GLOBAL atmospheric CO2 levels to pre 1990 values unless they ban all cattle and sheep farming from their beautiful state.

    Mind you, and on a completely unrelated subject, I’m nor sure why they want to reduce CO2 levels. Can somebody enlighten me?
    Thanks.

    /Sarc switch off now, as they say on WUWT.

  13. According to the USDA Ag Census in 2007 Kern County was the fifth largest “Milk and Diary Products from Cows” producer in the state and sixth in the entire US. The point being cows were already passing gas thereabouts anyway, so what’s the big deal? Or is Aussie Dan spot on? Could there be another agenda?

  14. 1. The greenhouse gas involved in the Kern County dispute is methane, a byproduct of beef and dairy cattle production. Difficult to control as it comes out of the cow but can be captured from “ripening” manure.

    2. We’re not talking about 150 cows surrounded by hundreds of acres of corn. It’s thousands of cows on feedlots and milking facilities where feed is trucked in and milk is trucked out.

    3. This is “industrial farming” not the “family farms” that city folks find so quaint and desirable.

    4. While I live downwind from a nuclear power plant and a chemical plant, I wouldn’t want to live downwind from thousands of cattle and open manure pits – especially in summer – although cows are better than pigs.

    5. People don’t like change – especially when it doesn’t (appear to) benefit them.

    The residents are fighting these “farms” with the only weapons available to them, the courts and environmental laws. I blame the state and federal legislatures for failing to enact reasonable laws and regulations that protect both business and personal interests as well as local officials for failing to manage change. A lack of leadership all around.

  15. Hmmm… the report on this story is a little different in the local press.

    A refiner cut a deal with CARB. They could expand one refinery if they cut their overall emissions. The NIMBY’s said that the air in their neighborhood was toxic enough before the refinery expansion. The judgment centers around the idea that AB32 (california cap’n trade) would have a disporportionate and negative consequence on poor neighborhoods.

    Gone with the wind — bad timing on your anecdote. 1992 marks the beginning of one of the great boom times in California.

  16. Speed.
    #3 Another “unforeseen consequences” result based on several decades of national and local efforts to make the operation of family farms more restrictive and less competitive and profitable.
    #4 Late winter’s tule fog season is the worst air stagnation period in that area. The rest of the year wind patterns there move right on up the valley or over the Sierra. But you make a valid point.
    #5 So as implementing GWSA eventually closes out existing dairies and feedlots, resulting in fewer jobs and a decreased taxbase, will public school teacher Tom Frantz still have a job?
    The only other industry going gangbusters in that area is prisons. Federal, State and private. That’s not too encouraging, either. Possibly hard times ahead.

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