Briefing Continues in ARB case

TRANSDEF filed its Opening Brief in its challenge to ARB’s inclusion of HSR in its 2014 Scoping Plan. It’s been a long hard slog since we filed the case back in 2014, but things will move more quickly now. See this page for a copy of the brief, for ARB’s Opposition Brief, and for a description of the case’s complicated history over the past two years. Here’s the Brief’s Conclusion:
TRANSDEF does not oppose, and indeed strongly supports, almost all of the Updated Scoping Plan; but TRANSDEF opposes inserting a measure into the Scoping Plan that does not and cannot meet the requirements the Legislature set for GHG Emission Reduction Measures in a Scoping Plan. ARB and CHSRA claim constructing high-speed rail will reduce GHG emissions. The evidence shows it will not – at least not within the crucial time that the Legislature specifically identified between 2014 and 2020.

Instead, with GHG emissions already teetering near a dangerous tipping point, high-speed rail construction will only make matters worse. It would be decades before any real reduction in GHG emissions could be claimed, and by that time, as the Legislature understood in writing the Act, the tipping point could already be long past.

In writing AB 32, the Legislature laid out very specifically what it expected to find in the Scoping Plans presented to it by ARB – a set of GHG Emissions Reduction Measures designed to feasibly and cost-effectively reduce GHG emissions by 2020. In placing high-speed rail construction in the Updated Scoping Plan, ARB not only violated CEQA and AB 32, it also misled the Legislature and the public into believing that funneling cap and trade auction proceeds into high-speed rail construction would help achieve AB 32’s goals for reducing 2020 emissions – when just the opposite was true. If AB 32’s 2020 GHG emissions reduction goals are to have any chance of being met, both the legislature and the public need accurate information. The Legislature also needs at least the chance to reconsider whether it wants, instead, to invest cap and trade auction proceeds in projects that would actually help meet AB 32’s ambitious 2020 goal. For all these reasons, ARB’s decisions placing the high-speed rail project in the Updated Scoping Plan, and approving its defective environmental review, must be reversed.