The California Air Resources Board(CARB) held a board meeting today to review the Final Supplement to AB 32 and the AB 32 Scoping Plan Functional Equivalent Document. The ARB staff gave a presentation updating the current status of AB 32 implementation and also detailed the updated environmental analysis of alternatives to the scoping plan. The presentation reviewed the current progress of key measures already being implemented under AB 32, including: the low carbon fuel standard, SB 375, and the renewable portfolio standard.

The staff’s presentation then detailed the cap-and-trade program under AB 32, which has hit some bumps along the way to implementation. We have previously detailed some of the legal issues here. Under the Judge’s ruling, CARB had to do a more thorough environmental analysis of the options that exist that would allow them to implement AB 32 and still allow the state of California to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals.

The five options that the ARB staff provided to the board to consider included: a no project alternative, a cap and trade program, a direct regulation alternative, a carbon fee/tax, or a combination of the cap-and-trade, direct regulation and carbon tax.

Before the board discussed and voted on the scoping plan, it heard testimony from a number of people. Representatives from Canadian provinces testified saying what California is doing is of great importance. They said the state is essentially leading the way for them and other areas of the world as they move forward with greenhouse gas reduction programs. A number of environmental justice advocates from areas of California that are over-polluted voiced their concerns that the cap and trade program is harmful to their communities and should be rejected. Members from the Environmental Defense Fund and other groups testified in support of the scoping plan.

Following the testimony the board then addressed the scoping plan amongst themselves. About half of the board said they were hesitant when cap and trade was first brought to the table, but after reviewing all the options they think it is the most feasible one, both economically and politically. Board member Ronald Loveridge said it is a “historic plan” for the state of California. The board approved the scoping plan unanimously.