Innovate, not Litigate

It’s no secret that California has been leading the nation in setting policy that will reward businesses that innovate and make smart investments in the clean economy.  And the rewards have already begun to roll-in for California.

Last year, venture capitalists made more than half of their clean technology investments in California – a total of about $3.7 Billion flowing into the state.  And as EDF’s own report has shown, California’s clean economy is growing faster and has proved more resilient during economic downturns than other sectors of the economy.

But no good deed can go unpunished.  Yesterday the California Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate California’s cap-and-trade auction, demonstrating that they would rather litigate than innovate.

This lawsuit comes on the eve of California’s first auction of carbon allowances that precedes the beginning of program enforcement in January 2013.  Cap-and-trade is a key tool in California’s effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 – an effort supported by more than 60 percent of the California electorate when citizens overturned out-of-state oil companies’ ploy to delay the program in 2010 and by the current California Legislature.

But even with that resounding defeat, polluters persist in their attempts to delay or weaken implementation of California’s landmark clean energy law.  Meanwhile, they continue to reap billion dollar profits while contaminating our air.

The fact that this lawsuit came on the eve of California’s first auction is no coincidence, it’s just one more underhanded attack strategy.  The lawsuit comes far too late to delay this first auction, but is timed perfectly to insert pollutes’ spurious sound bites into the momentous news of California’s first auction and inject uncertainty into a nascent market.  We can expect that detractors will continue to use this strategy to cast a cloud over the bright spot of California’s climate action as CARB releases auction results on November 19 and as enforcement begins in January.

The good news is that the Chamber’s arguments are unlikely to succeed. According to law experts from the Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment at the UCLA School of Law, the cap-and-trade program will most likely go forward without significant tinkering by the courts.

Now that Californians are really starting to see the state’s cutting edge environmental policies bear fruit, we know that it’s no time to move backwards. The future has already begun.

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