The below Jun. 15, 2020 press release is from the Sierra Club.
Late last week, the Sierra Club and six other environmental groups won an important case involving the County of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan.
The opinion explained in detail why the greenhouse gas mitigation measure was unenforceable. In addition to agreeing with the environmental groups that the mitigation measure designed for use with new General Plan Amendments (GPAs) does not ensure legally adequate mitigation for impacts, as required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision that the environmental review prepared for the Climate Action Plan is inadequate for the following reasons:
It was inadequate because it excluded GHG impacts from in-process GPAs;
The finding that the mitigation measure is consistent with the San Diego Association of Government’s (SANDAG) Regional Plan is not supported by substantial evidence;
It failed to analyze a smart growth alternative;
It failed to address environmental justice impacts, which is the disparate impacts on disadvantaged communities caused by increased emissions in the County; and
It failed to adequately analyze impacts to energy use from GPAs and increased vehicle miles traveled allowed in exchange for GHG reductions through the use of offsets.
As a result of these deficiencies, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s determination that the 2018 Climate Action Plan and supplemental environmental impact report (SEIR) are legally inadequate and must be set aside.
As California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, “Victories like this will help California get back on track to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals.”
The Sierra Club’s attorney for the case, Josh Chatten-Brown of Chatten-Brown, Carstens & Minteer released the following statement:
“The Court of Appeal agreed with us that San Diego County’s carbon offset program, designed to facilitate new sprawl projects in undeveloped areas by allowing out-of-county, and even international greenhouse gas offsets, is unlawful. This is because the County’s program does not ensure that the emission reductions will be verifiable, enforceable, and additional to what would otherwise occur. This decision will slow, if not stop, sprawl developments that would jeopardize the County’s ability to achieve its fair share of a reduction in greenhouse gases to avoid climate catastrophe. The County will have to consider a new Climate Action Plan that evaluates a smart growth alternative and ensures that the promised greenhouse gas emission reductions will actually occur. This is a huge win for the environment and for all San Diegans.”
Published by Alan Kandel