Cap and Trade for HSR: A Joke!

TRANSDEF released its analysis today of the CHSRA’s Contribution of the High-Speed Rail Program to Reducing California's Greenhouse Gas Emission Levels (June 2013). In short, the construction of HSR would generate more greenhouse gases (GHGs) than it would reduce, for at least 2 decades. Because of this, it would be illegal to use cap and trade funds, which are intended to reduce GHGs, to build HSR.

What’s especially surprising about the CHSRA’s report is its overtly deceitful manner of hiding its construction emissions, and its failure to provide comprehensive emissions numbers, despite being tasked by the Legislature with identifying the project’s net GHG benefits. Perhaps not so surprising are the two high-level Administration officials that gave their unqualified endorsements to the report.

Senate President Pro Tem Steinberg has
announced a new plan to allocate cap and trade funds to support SB 375 Sustainable Communities. That plan proposes to devote 20% of revenues to HSR. The proposal is troubling above and beyond its inclusion of HSR in the grab bag. It politicizes the use of cap and trade funds, departing from ARB’s strict approach of maximally reducing GHGs with the funds. The proposal would encourage the gaming of the evaluation of project GHG emissions, which could gravely harm the state’s climate change efforts.

Court of Appeals to CHSRA: No Way

The Court of Appeal summarily dismissed the CHSRA’s second Petition for Extraordinary Writ of Mandate, saying in effect that there were no legal grounds upon which to grant relief. It is expected that the desperate CHSRA will attempt to get relief from the California Supreme Court, where success is exceedingly unlikely. See all the legal papers.

ARB's Scoping Plan Update

The CA Air Resources Board (ARB) is updating the 2008 Scoping Plan, which laid out the State’s plan to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) which cause global climate change. TRANSDEF filed its comments, which stress the need for clarity as to the contribution of the economic recession and higher gasoline prices to the state’s reduced GHG emissions in the past 6 years. The comments call for ARB to remove HSR as a GHG emissions reduction measure, given that it is projected to increase GHGs for decades.

Authority Appeals Yet Another Decision

In a fascinating demonstration of desperation, the Attorney General filed a second Petition for Extraordinary Writ on behalf of the CHSRA, challenging the March 4, 2014 ruling in Tos that denied its request to end the Tos proceedings. CHSRA had requested a judgment on the pleadings already filed in the case. The Court ruled that a trial be held to determine whether the Authority’s HSR project complies with Proposition 1A.

The Court of Appeal will decide in the near future whether to call for further briefing or dismiss the petition.

The same Court of Appeal has ordered oral argument in the
Atherton II appeal for May 20, 2014. It is possible the oral argument for the two Extraordinary Writ Petitions will be held then as well, as the cases are related.

Court Rules Against Authority, Again

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny ruled today that the CHSRA had to stand trial on the question of whether its HSR plan complied with the requirements of Proposition 1A. The Authority had sought to end the case.

TRAC Issues Plan B

The Train Riders Association of California has issued its Plan B, what to do when the HSRA’s project craters. The Plan strategically attempts to use the $2.4 billion in federal ARRA funds before they expire in 2017. This Plan B differs from TRANSDEF’s Plan B, which proposed a wholesale revision of Proposition 1A and a repurposing of the entire $6 billion dollars appropriated for the Central Valley project. That plan has much greater uncertainties, because it would require a return to the voters. The time involved in doing that, given the very short timelines for construction, favors taking a more strategic approach. Hence, TRAC’s Plan B:


TRACPlanB02-24-2014