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Decision to uphold state cap-and-trade program will be appealed to California Supreme Court

 (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

The legal battle over California's cap-and-trade program is going to the state Supreme Court.

After suffering a defeat last week, the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation announced Friday that it will appeal the decision.

The cap-and-trade program requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, a system designed to provide a financial incentive to reduce pollution. Critics have accused the program of functioning as an unconstitutional tax because it wasn't approved by a two-thirds vote of the state Legislature, the legal threshold for approving taxes. 

A state appeals court in Sacramento rejected that argument, but Tony Francois, a senior attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, said they would keep pressing the case. 

"Driven by a ravenous appetite for revenue, the state has given some of our most significant businesses and employers an offer they can’t refuse — either buy emissions permits or get out of California," he said in a statement.

He added: "If this ‘pay up or shut down’ ultimatum is not a tax, then many forms of traditional taxation — think gas taxes — could also be defined as ‘voluntary,’ and exempted from the taxpayer protections in the state Constitution."

The California Chamber of Commerce, which also filed a lawsuit against cap and trade, has not decided whether to appeal, according to a spokeswoman for the organization. 

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