An enduring staple of western Nevada County’s commercial sector has joined an array of California-based businesses, trade associations and individuals in a class-action lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of the state’s “cap and trade” auction regulation.
The Pacific Legal Foundation will represent Robinson Enterprises Inc. — a 64-year-old company with a diverse operational portfolio that includes hauling, timber harvesting, petroleum storage and delivery, construction development and other services — along with other parties in challenging a key piece of California Assembly Bill 32.
AB 32, otherwise known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, is a state law devised to combat climate change through comprehensive efforts at curtailing greenhouse gas emissions from all the sources throughout the state.
A key piece of the legislation is the creation of a cap and trade auction, which requires industries that emit carbon dioxide beyond an established threshold to bid on allowance permits distributed by the California Air Resources Board. One permit is designed to allow the businesses to emit one metric ton of carbon dioxide or other identified greenhouse gases.
Lowell Robinson, owner of Robinson Enterprises, said the cap and trade auction will cause substantial increases in energy costs, which will hinder his ability to do business and hurt average consumers in California.
“I hate to see energy costs go up to the point where it hurts the general public,” Robinson said. “Our estimates show the cost of diesel fuel will increase by nearly $2. Of course that gets passed on to the end user.”
The Pacific Legal Foundation’s complaint argues the air resources board devised the cap and trade auction as a means of raising revenue without any instruction or direction from the state legislature.
“PLF’s lawsuit holds CARB’s feet to the fire because CARB cannot be allowed to siphon billions of dollars from California taxpayers in violation of the California constitution,” said the foundation’s senior staff attorney, Ted Hadzi-Antich. “CARB must obey the law, just as the rest of us are required to do.”
Hadzi-Antich said AB 32 did not specifically authorize the creation of an auction process, nor does it authorize the creation of a new tax.
“The California constitution is crystal clear that new state taxes require at least two-thirds approval in both chambers of the Legislature,” he said. “The ‘cap and trade’ auction program is a new state tax that will generate billions of dollars of revenues for the state on the backs of California taxpayers.”
The air resources board devised the cap and trade auction as part of its 2008 Scoping Plan that described the approach the state will take to reduce greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020, according to its website. The law also stipulates an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
California has begun working with British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba as part of the Western Climate Initiative, designed to provide administrative and technical services to support implementation of the program.
California is the first state to undertake a cap and trade program.
Two other legal challenges to the program were defeated in January, according to Bloomberg.
The California Chamber of Commerce also filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the cap and trade program in November 2012, days before the first auction was held, according to the Sacramento Business Journal.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email email@example.com or 530-477-4239.
“I hate to see energy costs go up to the point where it hurts the general public”
— Lowell RObinson,
Robinson Enterprises owner