Environmental justice organizations have filed a complaint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleging that California’s greenhouse gas (GHG ) emissions cap-and-trade program violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Coal. for a Safe Env’t v. CARB, No. N/A (EPA filed 6/8/12).  

According to the complaint, the emissions trading program will adversely affect low-income and minority neighborhoods. Specifically, the complaint alleges that the California Air Resources Board (CARB ) discriminated against communities of color when it adopted the cap-and-trade program because residents of lower income and minority neighborhoods will not benefit from the reduction in emissions the program is designed to achieve. It further contends that allowing emitters to purchase credits, as the program does, has no positive impact on neighborhoods in and around industrial facilities that emit harmful air pollutants, including toxins which are emitted along with carbon dioxide and other GHG s.  

Plaintiffs ask EPA to require, as a condition of continuing to provide federal financial assistance to CARB , that CARB reverse an October 2011 decision approving the cap-and-trade program and adopt less discriminatory alternatives. They ask EPA to sue to compel compliance with the Clean Air Act if the other remedies prove ineffectual.