Auction fight

Apr 17, 2013

A second lawsuit has been filed by business-backed interests challenging California's cap-and-trade auction program, in which companies barter emission credits to continue operating as they ratchet down on greenhouse gases, as required by law.


From the Bee's Dale Kasler: "The lawsuit was filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative organization based in Sacramento, on behalf of a group of businesses."


"An affiliate of the California Chamber of Commerce filed a similar lawsuit last fall, as the carbon program was getting underway."


"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. Because it was not passed by at least a two-thirds majority vote of the Legislature, it is unconstitutional. Case closed," said Pacific Legal staff attorney Ted Hadzi-Antich in a prepared statement."


A committee of the nation's largest public pension fund, CalPERS, says employer should be hiked sharply to achieve full funding over the next few decades.


From Calpensions' Ed Mendel: "CalPERS committee yesterday approved raising employer rates roughly 50 percent over the next seven years, replacing actuarial methods that kept rates low during the recession with a new goal of full funding in 30 years."


"The actuarial method approved by the benefits committee on a 5-to-2 vote, with some labor unions urging a delay for more study, is expected to be approved today by the full CalPERS board."


"Board President Rob Feckner wanted to give employers the option of phasing in the five-year rate hike over a longer period, seven to 10 years. Board member J.J. Jelincic wanted to send the proposal to the finance committee for more study."


The Case of the Caltrans Bolts took another turn, as it turns out that the Transportation Department never did some tests on the huge bolts that it had planned.


From the Chronicle's Jaxon Van Derbeken: "Caltrans engineers ordered tests in 2008 that might have revealed problems with the bolts that ultimately snapped on the Bay Bridge eastern-span project, but those tests were never done after the contractor disputed whether they were required, state documents show."


"At the time, Caltrans was concerned about the quality-control track record of the supplier of the galvanized bolts, Dyson Corp. of Ohio, according to Caltrans documents reviewed by The Chronicle."


"The tests that Caltrans ordered in fall 2008, designed to detect cracks in a batch of 96 bolts, would have been performed when the 17-foot-long rods were easily accessible on the span's seismic-safety structures. Last month, one-third of those bolts - no longer accessible, with the bridge road deck in place on top of them - failed after workers tightened them."

A state appellate court, siding with environmentalists, has backed California's system of marine reserves, some 124 reserves along the coast from Mexico to Oregon.


From the Mercury News' Paul Rogers: "California's landmark decision to establish the nation's largest network of marine reserves did not violate state law and will be allowed to stand, a state appeals court has ruled."


"In a significant victory for environmentalists and biologists who support the "no-fishing zones" designed to restore declining ocean species, the Fourth District Court of Appeal late Monday turned back a challenge by the Coastside Fishing Club, based in Martinez. The group had sued, arguing that the rules went too far and violated state law."


"We're very heartened. It's really good news for the future of California's coast," said Karen Garrison, co-director of ocean programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco."


Speaking of water, the Colorado River is stressed beyond its limits and those who depend on the river face dwindling supplies.


From the AP's Ken Ritter: "Drought and demand are pushing the Colorado River beyond its limits - with the needs of more than 40 million people in seven Western states projected to outstrip dwindling supply over the next 50 years, according to an advocacy group's report on endangered rivers released on Wednesday."


"The annual top-10 list by Washington, D.C.-based American Rivers points to a three-year federal Bureau of Reclamation study that warned last December that the river won't always be able to serve all the residents, businesses, ranchers, Native Americans and farmers who rely upon it."


"Already, the Colorado River is drained of nearly every drop by the time it reaches Mexico, American Rivers spokeswoman Amy Kober said."


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