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Association of Irritated Residents v. California Air Resources Board

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20118
Nos. No. 09-509562, (Sup. Ct., 03/18/2011)

A California court ordered the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to set aside its "functional equivalent document" that evaluates the environmental consequences of its climate change scoping plan and to enjoin implementation of the scoping plan until the agency complies with its obligations under its certified regulatory program and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Global Solutions Warming Act of 2006 requires CARB to prepare a scoping plan for achieving the "maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective reductions" in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The court rejected challenges to the scoping plan, including claims that CARB's analysis of the maximum technologically feasible and cost effective measures was defective. It also ruled that it was within CARB's authority to choose a cap-and-trade program as one of the primary emission reduction measures in its scoping plan. But CARB abused its discretion in certifying the functional equivalent document for the scoping plan as complete because it failed to include any facts or data to support the conclusions stated in its alternatives analysis. CARB's extensive evaluation of the cap-and-trade program in the scoping plan provides the public with information about cap and trade only. CEQA requires that CARB take a similar analysis of each of the alternatives so that the public may know not only why cap and trade was chosen, but also why the alternatives were not. In addition, the agency improperly approved and began implementing its scoping plan prior to completing the environmental review process.