Yesterday, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released a Supplement to its Functional Equivalent Document (FED) for the A.B. 32 Climate Change Scoping Plan – the environmental review document for the Scoping Plan. The Supplement was prepared as a result of a ruling against CARB in Association of Irritated Residents, et al. v. California Air Resources Board. CARB was ordered by the San Francisco Superior Court to remedy deficiencies in the FED’s analysis of alternatives to the greenhouse gas emission reduction measures proposed in the Scoping Plan. The Court’s March 2011 statement of decision on the case enjoined CARB from further rulemaking or implementation of the Scoping Plan, and specifically the cap-and-trade program, until CARB complied with environmental review requirements. The final order from the Court, issued May 20, 2011, reiterated that CARB was enjoined from engaging in activity related to cap-and-trade until it provided a complete analysis of alternatives in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act.
As reported here previously, the Superior Court recently found CARB in violation of the injunction against further implementation of the cap-and-trade program pending completion of the FED Supplement. The Court was scheduled to consider sanctioning CARB for the violation, but the Court took this hearing off calendar when the Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay of the Superior Court injunction.
The Supplement provides an expanded analysis of the five alternatives to the Scoping Plan described in the FED, including a no project alternative, a variation of the proposed combination of reduction measures proposed in the Scoping Plan, and three alternatives based on specific programs – cap-and-trade, source-specific regulatory requirements, and a carbon fee or tax. The Supplement is open for public comment for the next 45 days. Considering the FED’s original alternatives analysis was contained in about 17 pages, the 116-page Supplement might just do the trick to comply with the Court’s order.