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State Policy/Programs

Longtime Congresssman Henry Waxman to Retire

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) will retire after four decades of serving the country as a member of Congress. Waxman served as a leader for the Democratic party on many health and environmental issues over the four decades, including: universal health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid coverage, cost of generic drugs, tobacco regulation, air and water quality standards, pesticide regulation, and climate change efforts. His leadership efforts earned him the spot of Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee from January 2009 – January 2011. If you asked Republicans, they would say Rep. Waxman was a very partisan member of Congress, while Democrats would say he helped lead legislative compromises to make key bills become laws. Waxman said, “At the end of this year, I would have been in Congress for 40 years. If there is a time for me to move on to another chapter in my life, I think this is the time to do it.”

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States and Canadian Province Agree to Climate Pact

October 29, 2013 12:31 PM | Posted by Greissing, Patrick | Topic(s): State Policy/Programs, Legislative & Public Policy (State, Local, Federal, Int'l), GHG / Climate Change

The governors of California, Oregon and Washington have signed a climate pact with British Columbia in an effort to combat climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement calls for the four governments to work together in an effort to put a price on carbon dioxide pollution, requiring the use of lower-carbon gasoline, and setting more goals to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions across their region. The agreement will allow the governments to develop the same greenhouse gas emissions targets for 2050, and develop near-term targets that will help them reach the long-term goals. Part of the agreement calls for 10% of all new cars and trucks on the market to be electric vehicles by 2016. The governments hope that this blueprint, though it is nonbinding, will be a signal to Congress to move forward with climate legislation.

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CARB Releases Draft of Updated AB32 Scoping Plan

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) released the public discussion draft for the update to the AB 32 Scoping Plan. The Scoping Plan focuses on the comprehensive efforts that the state must take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The draft update examines three questions:

  • What progress has been made over the last five years?
  • What is needed to continue on the course to meet the goals by 2020? And
  • What steps are required to meet the state’s climate goals for after 2020?

In terms of the progress the state has made to date, the discussion draft finds that California is on track to meet the emissions targets of AB 32 by 2020. The draft also details steps California must take to continue greenhouse gas reductions in six key areas: fuels and infrastructure; water; land use; transportation; waste; natural and working lands; and agriculture. CARB will hold a public workshop on October 15 in Sacramento and a board meeting at the end of the month. After the board meeting, the draft will be revised and presented back to the Board at the December meeting with a target date for approval of the update being the Spring of 2014. The discussion draft is open for public comment until November 1 at 5:00 pm.

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New Contract to Make Carbon Trading Easier?

October 3, 2013 4:53 PM | Posted by Greissing, Patrick | Topic(s): State Policy/Programs, Carbon Markets, GHG / Climate Change

Many of the covered entities under California’s cap-and-trade program have unveiled a new agreement that would standardize secondary trades of carbon allowances and offsets in the cap-and-trade market. The agreement was developed by the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) and incorporates ideas and expertise from some of the largest firms operating under the California carbon market. The “California Emissions Trading Master Agreement” (CETMA) deals “with a number of secondary market trading issues specific to California’s unique AB32 compliance market, including offset invalidation, holding limits, registry and tracking system mechanics, and the buyer liability provisions under the California rules,” according to an IETA press release. Under the “buyer liability” provision in the contract, the burden on replacing credits in the event of a project being invalidated would now fall on the seller instead of the buyer. The agreement also comes at an opportune time as California officials have recently begun approving offset projects. The agreement as a whole is a tool that should enhance market liquidity.

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CARB’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard Lives to Breathe Another Day

September 18, 2013 9:10 PM | Posted by Nicki Carlsen | Topic(s): State Policy/Programs

Ninth Circuit rejects District Court’s conclusion that California Air Resources Board’s low carbon fuel standard violated dormant Commerce Clause and remands for additional proceedings. Citing a state’s ability to experiment with regulation, the Ninth Circuit determined that the low carbon fuel standard was not an impermissible extraterritorial regulation, and remanded to the District Court to consider whether the ethanol provisions discriminate in purpose or effect. “States may not mandate compliance with their preferred policies in wholly out-of-state transactions, but they are free to regulate commerce and contracts within their boundaries with the goal of influencing the out-of-state choices of market participants.” Rocky Mountain Farmers Union v. Corey, U.S. Ct. Apps (9th Cir.), Slip Opinion, September 18, 2013, p. 63.

Written by Nicki Carlsen, Partner, Environmental & Land Development  |  Alston & Bird LLP

Accelerating Appliance Efficiency Standards in California

The California Energy Commission has been quite active in recent years tightening the energy efficiency standards of a whole host of appliances. See e.g., battery chargers. California state regulators just don’t think that the federal Energy Star program is strict enough and want to set a higher bar.

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Lawsuit Challenges California’s “Cap-and-Trade” Auction As Unconstitutional

Pacific Legal Foundation filed alawsuit today in the Superior Court of California County of Sacramento challenging California’s cap-and-trade auction. The suit was filed on behalf of a broad group of California businesses, trade associations and individuals, who believe the auction process acts as an unconstitutional tax because it was not enacted by two-thirds majorities in both chambers of the California Legislature, which is required by the California Constitution. The lawsuit states that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) instituted the auction as a plan to raise billions of dollars in revenue without direction from the Legislature. They argue, if citizens and corporations must obey the state Constitution, shouldn’t an agency of the California government?

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Court of Appeals Not to Take up CSAPR Challenge

January 29, 2013 9:34 AM | Posted by Greissing, Patrick | Topic(s): State Policy/Programs, Litigation, GHG / Climate Change

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia declined to grant a rehearing of EME Homer City Generation LP v. EPA, a case that challenged EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). The court, in a 2-1 ruling in August, vacated the CSAPR. The court stated that EPA was exceeding its statutory authority, as the agency should allow states to develop their own rules to address emissions and CSAPR could have required states to account for more emissions than necessary. EPA hoped to challenge the ruling of the court and asked for an en banc hearing, so that the case could be heard before all eight of the circuit’s judges. However, a majority of the judges voted against the request, so the court will not rehear the case. The question now is whether EPA will take its challenge to the Supreme Court.

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AB32 Implementation Group Requests Delay of GHG Auction

October 23, 2012 1:35 PM | Posted by Patrick Greissing | Topic(s): State Policy/Programs, Legislative & Public Policy (State, Local, Federal, Int'l), GHG / Climate Change

The AB32 Implementation Group (AB32IG) sent a letter to California Governor Brown requesting that the cap-and-trade program and first allowance auction scheduled for November 14, 2012 be delayed. AB32IG had hoped CARB would address some of their concerns at the September board meeting, however CARB failed to do so. The letter requests that Gov. Brown step in to protect the state’s economy; and states that the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office confirmed that the auctioning of allowances is not necessary to reach the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals set forth in AB32. Part of the letter reads, “CARB’s requirement to buy allowances will impose high and unnecessary costs on California businesses, threatening jobs and tax revenues in the state.” It continues to say that consumers will be impacted by higher costs of fuel, utilities, food and other essential services. So far the Governor has yet to respond to AB32IG’s letter.

Judge Blocks California LCFS

January 5, 2012 9:56 AM | Posted by Patrick Greissing | Topic(s): State Policy/Programs, Carbon Markets

Last week, Judge Lawrence O’Neill issued a preliminary injunction against California’s low-carbon fuel standard(LCFS). The LCFS program, which was originally ordered by former Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2007 and later approved by the California Air Resources Board(CARB) in late 2009, would cut vehicle emissions by 10 percent by 2020. Judge O’Neill believes that the LCFS ultimately discriminates against interstate commerce. His ruling reads in part, “California is attempting to stop leakage of GHG emissions by treating electricity generated outside of the state differently than electricity generated inside its border. This discriminates against interstate commerce.” CARB has said they will appeal the ruling and seek a stay on the injunction, as will other environmental groups. This is not a surprise, as the LCFS along with the state’s cap-and-trade program are two key policy initiatives for the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will be interesting to see if this ruling affects other states in their efforts to begin greenhouse gas reduction programs.

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