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Cleveland Nat. Forest etc. v. San Diego Assn. etc.

Filed 7/13/17 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST ) FOUNDATION et al., ) ) Plaintiffs and Appellants, ) ) S223603 v. ) ) Ct.App. 4/1 D063288 SAN DIEGO ASSOCIATION OF ) GOVERNMENTS et al., ) ) San Diego County Defendants and Appellants; ) Super. Ct. No. ) 37-2011-00101593- THE PEOPLE, ) CU-TT-CTL ) Intervener and Appellant. ) ____________________________________) CREED-21 et al., ) ) Plaintiffs and Appellants, ) ) Super. Ct. No. v. ) 37-2011-00101660- ) CU-TT-CTL SAN DIEGO ASSOCIATION OF ) GOVERNMENTS et al., ) ) Defendants and Appellants; ) ) THE PEOPLE, ) ) Intervener and Appellant. ) ____________________________________) The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA; Pub. Resources Code, § 21000 et seq.) requires that public agencies assess the environmental impacts of projects requiring government permits. The law is intended ― ‗to alert the public SEE DISSENTING OPINION and its responsible officials to environmental changes before they have reached ecological points of no return.‘ ‖ (Laurel Heights Improvement Assn. v. Regents of University of California (1988) 47 Cal.3d 376, 392 (Laurel Heights).) One of the impacts that public agencies must analyze under CEQA is whether a project will significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions. In this case, the project is a regional development plan for the San Diego area intended to guide its transportation infrastructure from 2010 to 2050. The Attorney General and various environmental groups challenged an environmental impact report (EIR) accompanying the plan on several grounds. At issue here is their claim that the EIR failed to adequately analyze the plan‘s impacts on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. In particular, the challengers contend that the EIR should have evaluated the plan‘s impacts against an executive order signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2005 declaring a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in California to 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050. The EIR projects that under the plan, greenhouse gas emissions will fall through 2020 but then rise and maintain an upward trajectory through 2050. The challengers claim that this trend is at odds with the state‘s climate change goals, as reflected in the 2005 executive order, and that the EIR should have clearly analyzed and informed the public about that inconsistency. The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the regional planning agency that issued the EIR, argues that it was not obligated under CEQA or any other law to use the executive order in its analysis. We conclude that SANDAG did not abuse its discretion by declining to explicitly engage in an analysis of the consistency of projected 2050 greenhouse gas emissions with the goals in the executive order. The EIR sufficiently informed the public, based on the information available at the time, about the regional plan‘s greenhouse gas impacts and its potential inconsistency with state climate change 2 goals. Nevertheless, we do not hold that the analysis of greenhouse gas impacts employed by SANDAG in this case will necessarily be sufficient going forward. CEQA requires public agencies like SANDAG to ensure that …
Original document
Source: California Supreme Court