Environment & Science

Environmental justice activists halt state’s cap-and-trade plan for carbon

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A coalition of environmental justice groups have won a victory against the state Air Resources Board in a dispute over California’s landmark greenhouse gas law.

That landmark law, AB 32, requires sweeping reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in California. But a San Francisco judge has put about a fifth of AB 32’s planned reductions in doubt by suspending a cap-and-trade scheme for carbon emissions.

The decision came in a lawsuit by groups representing communities near the Southland’s ports and refineries, power plants in the Inland Empire and other big pollution sources in California. They argued that a cap-and-trade plan would let polluters keep polluting in low-income Latino and black neighborhoods as they purchase credits to clean emissions in other places.

The judge’s order directs air officials to reconsider the health and environmental impacts of a cap-and-trade carbon emissions market. The ruling also reveals the clash of views between environmental activists that back cap-and-trade and those focused on “green issues” in low-income neighborhoods.

The Air Resources Board is working on a settlement with the groups that sued over cap-and-trade.