Guest essay by Eric Worrall
LA Times suggests the centrepiece of California’s green policies might be about to collapse in the face of an ongoing legal challenge.
The immediate threat to California’s climate-change fight isn’t Trump, it’s this
With President Trump in the Oval Office, California officials are bracing for the possibility that the new administration will undermine the state’s landmark policies on climate change. But the more immediate threat isn’t coming from Washington; it lies in a lawsuit that has been slowly winding its way through state courts.
The 4-year-old legal challenge pursued by the California Chamber of Commerce and a collection of business interests argues that the cap-and-trade program represents an unconstitutional tax. The system, intended to create a financial incentive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, requires companies to purchase permits to pollute.
State lawyers have the chance to defuse the situation Tuesday in an appeals court hearing in Sacramento. A decision could be released within the next three months, but it likely won’t be the final word — the losing party can still appeal to the California Supreme Court.
All of this activity, state officials argue, falls within the government’s authority to regulate industry.
Opponents disagree, noting that the state is collecting revenue through a program that wasn’t created with a two-thirds vote in both houses of the Legislature, the threshold needed to approve taxes.
“What they’re doing is simply outside the law,” said Loren Kaye, president of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education, a think tank affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce.