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.