CEQA Guidelines on Greenhouse Gases One Step Closer to Law

By Leslie Z. Walker

On July 3, 2009, the Natural Resources Agency issued a notice of proposed action (“Notice”) for the adoption of CEQA guidelines addressing the evaluation and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.  Public Resources Code section 21083.05 requires that the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (“OPR”) “prepare, develop, and transmit to the Resources Agency guidelines for the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions or the effects of greenhouse gas emissions,” by July 1, 2009. OPR transmitted these in April of 2009, ahead of schedule.  See OPR Finalizes Proposed CEQA Guidelines and Transmits Them to Resources Agency. The Resources Agency has noticed its intent to adopt the guidelines, as proposed by the OPR.  The Notice commenced the rulemaking process for the guidelines.

The text of the proposed guidelines is old news; practitioners have been negotiating the language since OPR issued it in April.  Equally as tired, is the phrase often offered to explain the lack of detail in the proposed guidelines: “traditional CEQA rules apply.”  The Notice expands on the phrase, articulating three specific policy objectives:

  1. Lead agencies retain traditional discretion;
  2. Greenhouse gas emissions should be analyzed as a cumulative impact; and
  3. Analysis of greenhouse gas emissions should be tiered wherever possible.

Perhaps most interesting are the disclosures.  The Notice finds that the proposed Guidelines will not affect housing costs and will not have a significant, statewide adverse economic impact directly affecting businesses.

The Resources Agency will hold public hearings on the guidelines on August 18, 2009 in Sacramento, California and August 20, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  Written comments will be accepted until August 20, 2009.

Leslie Z. Walker is an associate at Abbott & Kindermann, LLP.  For questions relating to this article or any other California land use, real estate, environmental and/or planning issues contact Abbott & Kindermann, LLP at (916) 456-9595.

The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice by Abbott & Kindermann, LLP, nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because of the changing nature of this area of the law and the importance of individual facts, readers are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.

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