Will California Legal Action Give “Cap and Trade” New Life at National Level?

The thing about “cap and trade” legislation is, that it is so chock-full of technical language that is difficult for anyone but a policy wonk to follow. “Global warming” legislation has been shot down in the Congress, but has passed on a statewide level in California. It is taking a long time to implement in the Golden State partially due to the law’s complexity, but also due to the fact that so many groups and individuals are trying to profit from it. The following is an update on California “cap and trade” litigation, and how it has POTENTIAL to bring back the bad science of climate change to nationwide application. This needs watching.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, center, signs the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2006, in San Francisco. Schwarzenegger signed into law a sweeping global warming initiative that imposes the nation’s first cap on greenhouse gas emissions, saying the effort kicks off “a bold new era of environmental protection.” Standing on picturesque Treasure Island with San Francisco’s skyline in the background, Schwarzenegger called the fight against global warming one of the most important issues of modern times. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Heritage Foundation and the New York Times follow my story last week on the San Francisco judge who has put a temporary stop to the enforcement of California’s “cap and trade” law, AB 32. What is clear is: It is too soon for global warming “skeptics” to celebrate. California’s “cap and trade” law still has plenty of legal “legs,” because there is too much money to be made by the interested parties. California taxpayers beware: Your pockets are going to be picked (again.) There is even a possibility the California legal outcomes could have national impact.

After having the ruling and lawsuit reviewed by a number of attorneys and interested parties, it is clear there are still more expensive and business-killing “boondoggles” to “cap and trade” that never got much publicity in the long-running battle to get the AB32 legislation passed in California:

Here is what is potentially still to come in California “cap and trade:”

California’s AB32 “Cap and Trade” Scope May Be Broadened

As Thomas Lifson at American Thinker rightfully pointed out last week, the initial “jubilation” by climate “realists” that AB32 is temporarily suspended by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith from taking effect should be tempered. If the environmental groups bringing the lawsuit in San Francisco are eventually successful, the “cap and trade” law could be much more broadly applied:

The group Association of Irritated Residents (AIR) is a far left environmental group. The court decision is here.

AIR argues that the Air Resources Board (ARB) did not go far enough in its regulations. They want agriculture along with many other industries included in the regulations instead of just the major emitters of greenhouse gas emissions.

For example, the opinion states on page 10 that “Petitioners first allege that ARB failed to include direct emissions reduction measures from the agricultural sector”. (AIR is a San Joaquin valley based group which files suits against the EPA and other regulatory bodies to try to clean up the valley air.)

It is apparent that this is an effort to get the Air Resources Board to broaden its regulations to include a much larger number of businesses. If AIR can get the ARB to agree, the net effect would be to impose much more draconian GHG regulations on California businesses.

Lobbying for Global warming “Reparations” to “Impacted” Parties or Community Groups

Bob White, a Tea party/9-12 organizer in California, was kind enough to pass along some very good history on the attempts to add climate “reparations” to California law during the time AB32 was working its way through the legislature. These measures did not get much attention at the time, which is shocking considering the potentially huge transfer of taxpayer wealth to environmental “activist” groups.

“In an effort to ensure California low-income communities get their fair share of resources from AB 32, CRPE became a co-sponsor of AB 1405 (De Leon) [AB 1405 should link to along with Coalition for Clean Air, California State Office of the NAACP, and the Greenlining Institute. AB 1405 seeks to create a Community Benefits Fund (CBF) that requires 30% of any revenues from the implementation of AB 32 go into a fund for low income and disproportionately impacted communities. The idea behind the Fund is to provide resources for communities that already bear disproportionate burdens of pollution and global warming. The fund could be used to accelerate greenhouse gas emission reductions or mitigate direct health impacts of climate change in low-income communities.”

It turns out, there were two attempts to pass “climate reparations” to go along with AB 32, one to pay out 30% to community groups unknown, and an amendment tried for a 10% pay-out. To his credit, Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed each of them. How likely is it that “green” governor Jerry Brown will veto such a measure if it comes before him?

9th Circuit Appeals Court Ruling May Also Broaden the Scope of AB32

Just as the San Francisco Superior Court was ruling on aspects of AB32, the 9th Circuit of Appeals also weighed in with a decision that confuses the issue even more. (Since at least one of the plaintiffs in the federal case is “shared” by the San Francisco lawsuit, it appears the environmental groups may be “shopping” their agenda through state and federal courts concurrently.)

The federal appeals panel agreed with California Central Valley environmental groups that the Environmental Protection Agency needs to issue more agency rulings to allow regulations for such things as vehicle mileage:

The groups raise three issues in their petition for review:

– They contend EPA’s failure to order California to submit a revised attainment plan for the South Coast (Los Angeles) area after it disapproved a 2003 attainment plan was arbitrary and capricious.

– They contend EPA’s approval of a plan designed to reduce emissions from pesticide applications violates the Clean Air Act because the plan lacks enforceable commitments.

– They contend EPA violated the Clean Air Act by failing to require transportation control measures to combat any increase in vehicle miles traveled.

The federal appeals court says it agrees with all three arguments.

The EPA staff’s ability to make new regulations “by memo,” without a vote of Congress, poses an unconstitutional “end-around” that is being challenged by the Chamber of Commerce and some House Republicans.

“Cap and Trade” should be called “Cap, Trade and Transfer (Wealth)”

What this all shows, again, is that “cap and trade” legislation has nothing to do with saving the planet. The law is, and always has been, a money “cow” to be milked by certain preferred parties and opportunists.

To oversimplify but hopefully clarify this a bit further:

California businesses and residents will be heavily impacted by fees, standards and permitting procedures if “cap and trade” law AB 32 is ever put into full effect. With 193 companies leaving the state just last year, it is anticipated that AB32, once in full force and effect, will send even more businesses over the border.

The “cap” on the supposedly-toxic carbon dioxide emissions of businesses require that industries reduce emissions and re-tool with expensive new equipment to meet very tough standards that are difficult, if not impossible to meet.

The “trade” is a huge scam which receives little coverage from mainstream media and television networks. NBC has a conflict of interest: The “trade” makes money for a group of investors and brokers who will make money buying, selling and holding “carbon credits” which companies and users will be able to purchase to “offset” their supposed harm to the environment when they are unable to meet the unattainable standards. A controversial new “industry” of carbon credit traders has sprung up in anticipation of credit exchanging. For example, state records show hedge fund manager Thomas Steyer in San Francisco paid at least $5 million to fight a ballot proposition against AB32 last fall. Hollywood stars and industry celebrities like Bill Gates of Microsoft and Sergei Brin of Google helped raise $36 million overall to keep AB32 in place. It is naïve to believe that such corporate titans and investors are paying such huge sums simply trying to save the planet.

Mr. Steyer, along with Al Gore, General Electric (which owns NBC) and many other Obama administration cronies, stand to make BILLIONS from carbon credit trading if/when AB 32 takes effect. Carbon credit trading has foundered at a national level with the failure to pass a bill in Congress. It is unclear how the California trading will proceed.

Climate “Reparations” Fail at Internationale Level, but May Be Approved in California

The California idea of “reparations” to “injured” climate victims is not new. It had been discussed before, but officially became part of the global warming climate treaty meme during the 1992 “Rio Summit.

Those of us who have followed the Copenhagen (December 2009) and Cancun (December 2010) international climate conferences sponsored by the United Nations are very well aware that a huge component of the proposed international climate “treaty” is/was “reparations” to third world countries to supposedly “help” them to recover from the impacts of global warming.

(Never mind the “inconvenient facts” that global warming is not occurring, there is now global cooling and no climate change is caused by humans) is causing a problem with any approval of such a treaty.

The other problem with “reparations” is, because they are totally bogus, they are based on no factual “standard” and would simply constitute an unaccountable transfer of wealth from rich to poor countries. (Read: More vacation homes and Ferraris for banana republic dictators.)

(You might remember one of my stories from the 2009 Copenhagen summit, in which be-turbaned African dictators from random small nations were pounding on conference tables demanding an eye-goggling $722 billion from the United States in “reparations,” a proposal that thankfully, went nowhere. The climate treaty “bandits” went home empty-handed in 2009. Again in Cancun 2010, no treaty was signed.)

Will “Cap and Trade” Rise from the “Ashes” Nationally Due to California Legal Action?

What could potentially happen, if the San Francisco lawsuit is successful, is that statewide rules for “capping” carbon dioxide emissions could be extended in much more detail, to agri-business, individual users of energy, and specific geographic areas.

If the legislature takes action on “reparations” again, California governor Jerry Brown is not likely to veto them. There would ensue a “money grab” from an alphabet soup of “entitled” groups and individuals.

If the federal EPA follows the 9th Circuit Court ruling, there could issue more stringent energy regulations tied to consumer and business usage. Would they apply just to California due to AB 32 or might they be construed nationwide?

Good questions to ask: Who are these environmental groups bringing these lawsuits? Who do they represent? If they get 10 or 20 or 30 percent of taxes taken in from AB32, what are they going to do with the money? Who determines who gets to be “impacted” by global warming in California and deserves “reparations?” This is what killed the climate treaty internationally, but here in California, it’s not politically-correct to question the theory of “man-caused” climate change. California liberals are still stuck in the 80s with climate theories. Out here, Al Gore still gets invites to political fundraisers, for people like Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer, who still get elected. That should tell you a LOT. These are very inconvenient questions and no one in the California media or legislature seems to be asking them.

References:

“Climate Justice [finally] California Judge Faults AB 32 Cap and Trade Law”

San Francisco Superior Court ruling by Judge Ernest Goldsmith here.

California Appeals Court Demands EPA Restrict Driving in California

9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling here

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