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Court rejects challenge to California offset plan

28 Jan 2013, 4.03 pm GMT

Washington, 28 January (Argus) — A California court has rejected an effort by environmental groups to invalidate the state Air Resources Board's (ARB) carbon offset protocols for its greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program.

San Francisco Superior Court judge Ernest Goldsmith on 25 January ruled that the board had acted reasonably by creating a set of standardized offset protocols rather than issuing offsets to projects on a case-by-case basis, as the plaintiffs had sought.

The groups Citizens Climate Lobby and Our Children's Earth Foundation filed suit against the offset protocols last year, arguing that ARB's approach could allow offsets to be generated for activities that would have occurred even in the absence of the trading program. Oral arguments in the case were heard on 7 December.

Goldsmith rejected those arguments, finding that the California legislature had broadly delegated its powers to ARB to enact the program. He also found that the group's attacks on the specific offset protocols were not strong enough to overrule ARB's judgment.

Goldsmith found that the groups “have failed to demonstrate that the legislature foreclosed the use of standardized additionality mechanisms or demonstrate that [ARB] acted arbitrarily or capriciously in promulgating additionality standards.”

Under the cap-and-trade program, up to 8pc of any compliance entity's obligation can be met with offsets. California Carbon Offsets have not yet been issued by ARB, though there are projects undergoing review.

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