The California Air Resources Board (CARB) released a supplement to the A.B. 32 scoping plan functional equivalent document (FED) on June 13, 2011. The supplement provides an expanded analysis of five cap-and-trade program project alternatives, which are the same alternatives originally discussed in the 2008 scoping plan FED.
While the five alternatives have not changed, some of the underlying circumstances have. For example, the supplement relies on updated emissions projections in light of the current economic forecasts, thus accounting for the 2008 economic downturn. All five project alternatives discussed in the supplement could potentially attain most of A.B. 32’s basic objectives, including reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Based on the supplement’s expanded analysis, CARB will reconsider its approval of the 2008 scoping plan, which included a cap-and-trade scheme.
Due to a recent California superior court decision finding that CARB’s A.B. 32 analysis of alternatives for cap-and-trade was insufficient under the California Environmental Quality Act, CARB was forced to supplement its original alternatives analysis. CARB already has a long list of tasks to complete and finalize before January 1, 2012, when cap-and-trade is supposed to commence in California. A controversy has also arisen as to whether the superior court’s ruling was mandatory or prohibitory in nature, affecting whether the court’s decision was automatically stayed when CARB filed its appeal. The validity and scope of the automatic stay affects whether CARB is allowed to continue its finalization of cap-and-trade while still complying with the court’s findings or must cease all work toward finalizing cap-and-trade in the interim.