2014 MID-YEAR ENVIRONMENTAL LAW UPDATE

By Diane Kindermann, William W. Abbott, Glen Hansen and Katherine J. Hart

Welcome to Abbott & Kindermann’s 2014 Mid-Year Environmental update. This update discusses selected litigation, regulations/administrative guidance and pending legislation, on both the federal and state levels, in the following general areas of environmental law: (A) Water Supply, (B) Water Quality, (C) Wetlands, (D) Air Quality, (E) Endangered Species, (F) NEPA, (G) Mining / Oil & Gas, (H) Cultural Resources, (I) Environmental Enforcement, and (J) Renewable Energy.

Click here to read the complete update.

If you have any questions about this article, contact Diane Kindermann, William Abbott, Glen Hansen or Katherine Hart. 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.

Federal Courts Continue To Reject Climate Change Lawsuits That Rely On Federal Common Law

By Glen Hansen

In American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut, ___ U.S. ___, 131 S.Ct. 2527, 180 L.Ed.2d 435 (2011) (“AEP”), the United States Supreme Court held that the Clean Air Act (“CAA”) and any Environmental Protection Agency action authorized by the CAA displaces any federal common law of interstate nuisance seeking abatement of carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel fired power plants. Following AEP, several federal courts in 2012 rejected lawsuits based on common law claims that sought to remedy climate change, either by way of damages or injunctive relief.

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In Striking Down EPA's "Transport Rule" Under The Clean Air Act, Federal Court Is Struck With EPA's Refusal To Acknowledge Any Textual Limits On Its Authority

By Glen Hansen

The Clean Air Act (“CAA”) charges the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) with setting National Ambient Air Quality Standards (“NAAQS”), which prescribe the maximum permissible levels of common pollutants in the ambient air. EPA designates “nonattainment” areas — that is, areas within each State where the level of the pollutant exceeds the NAAQS. Once EPA sets a NAAQS and designates nonattainment areas within the States, the lead role shifts to the States. The States implement the NAAQS within their borders through State Implementation Plans (“SIPs”). In their SIPs, States choose which individual sources within the State must reduce emissions, and by how much. States must submit SIPs to EPA within three years of each new or revised NAAQS. One of the required elements of a SIP submission is the “good neighbor” provision, which recognizes that emissions from “upwind” regions may pollute “downwind” regions. The good neighbor provision requires upwind States to bear responsibility for their fair share of the nonattainment in downwind States. EPA plays the critical role in gathering information about air quality in the downwind States, calculating each upwind State’s good neighbor obligation, and transmitting that information to the upwind State. With that information, the upwind State can then determine how to meet its good neighbor obligation in a new SIP or SIP revision. If a State does not timely submit an adequate SIP (or an adequate SIP revision) to take account of the good neighbor obligation as defined by EPA, responsibility shifts back to the Federal Government. Within two years of disapproving a State’s SIP submission or SIP revision, or determining that a State has failed to submit a SIP, EPA must promulgate a Federal Implementation Plan (“FIP”) to implement the NAAQS within that State.

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The Commerce Clause As A Sword To Challenge California's Efforts To Curb Greenhouse Gas Emissions

By Glen C. Hansen

As California seeks to reduce greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions in the state’s industries in order to implement provisions of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (i.e., AB 32), entities and trade groups both inside and outside the state have looked to the “dormant” Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution as a legal means to challenge those efforts. That constitutional argument could be potent. As Professor Deborah A. Sivas of Stanford Law School explains: “It could become impossible for states to do anything for regulating greenhouse gas emissions if there’s an invigorated dormant Commerce Clause, because states can’t really get their arms around emissions unless they look at what other states are doing.” To date, dormant Commerce Clause challenges to California’s GHG-reduction efforts have met with varied success in the federal courts.

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Cap and Trade Regulations Approved and Transmitted; Preliminary List of Covered Entities Now Available

By Leslie Z. Walker

On December 13, the Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) approved and transmitted to the Secretary of State the regulations for the California Cap on Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Market-Based Compliance Mechanisms (Cal. Code Regs., tit 17, §§ 95800 et seq.), (“Cap and Trade Regulations”) including Compliance Offset Protocols (“Offset Protocol”). One day later, OAL approved and filed with the Secretary of State revisions to Mandatory Reporting Requirements initially enacted in 2007 (“MRR”). The Cap and Trade Regulations, Compliance Offset Protocol, and MMR are central to implementing California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32, Health & Saf. Code, § 38500 et seq.) and will take effect on January 1, 2012.

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2011 CEQA MID-YEAR UPDATE

By Leslie Z. Walker, William W. Abbott, Cori M. Badgley and Katherine J. Hart

In the first six months of 2011, the appellate courts have issued eight opinions and the results are a mixed bag. On the one hand, the Sixth Appellate District gave cities and project proponents a strategy to deal with Save Tara v. City of West Hollywood (2008) 45 Cal.4th 116 (Cedar Fair, L.P. v. City of Santa Clara (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 1150); the First Appellate District gave more clarity on deferred mitigation in Oakland Heritage Alliance v. City of Oakland (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 884; and the Fourth District held that petitioners failed to exhaust their administrative remedies when they did not fairly present evidence to the City (Citizens for Responsible Equitable Environmental Development v. City of San Diego (2011) 184 Cal.App.4th 1032). On the other hand however, the Fifth Appellate District held that project components not properly documented for CEQA purposes cannot be severed from the balance of the approval and a project found to partially violate CEQA, must be set aside in its entirety (Landvalue 77, LLC v. Board of Trustees of California State University (2011) 193 Cal.App.4th 675.)

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AB 32 Scoping Plan Enjoined

By Leslie Z. Walker

San Francisco Superior Court enjoined the implementation of the Air Resources Board’s Climate Change Scoping Plan, finding the alternatives analysis and public review process violated both CEQA and the Air Resources Board’s certified regulatory program.

The Scoping Plan is the strategy for achieving the Greenhouse Gas (“GHG”) reductions mandated by the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Health & Saf. Code, 38500 et seq., “AB 32”). AB 32 directed the Air Resources Board (“ARB”) to prepare and approve a scoping plan for achieving the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective reductions in GHG emissions by 2020. (Health & Saf. Code, § 38561.) ARB adopted the Climate Change Scoping Plan including the functional equivalent document (“FED”) on December 12, 2008. Petitioners challenged both the Scoping Plan and the FED, claiming the former violated AB 32 and the latter violated CEQA and ARB’s certified regulatory program (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 17, 60005-60007). The court found the plan violated CEQA and the certified regulatory program, but not AB 32.

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REMINDER! Save the Date!

Abbott & Kindermann’s Annual Land Use, Real Estate, and Environmental Law Update

Reserve your seat for one of three seminars taking place in 2011.

In January and February 2011 Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will present its annual complimentary educational program for clients and colleagues interested in current land use, environmental, and real estate issues affecting commercial and residential development, real estate acquisition, easements, leasing and property acquisition, and mining.  In addition, the following hot topics for 2011 will be discussed:

  • Global Warming: CEQA Guidelines, Mandatory Reporting, AB 32 
  • Water Supply Assessments
  • CEQA Litigation: Exemptions, Setting the Baseline, Alternative Analysis & Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
  • Subdivision Map Extensions
  • Interpreting Development Agreements
  • Agricultural Land Mitigation
  • New General Permit Under Clean Water Act

Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will be presenting its annual program at three California locations, Sacramento, Modesto and Redding. Details for the seminars are below. We hope you can join us and look forward to seeing you there.

Modesto Conference

  • Date: Thursday, January 20, 2011
  • Location: Double Tree Hotel Modesto, 1150 Ninth Street
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Redding Conference 

  • Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2011
  • Location: Hilton Garden Inn Redding , 5050 Bechelli Lane
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Sacramento Conference

  • Date: Friday, February 11, 2011
  • Location: Sacramento Hilton Arden West, 2200 Harvard Street
  • Registration: 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. with continental breakfast
  • Program: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

There is no charge for the programs and MCLE and AICP CM credits are available. 

An RSVP will be required as space is limited. To reserve a spot, call our office at (916) 456-9595. When calling, please specify which conference you will be attending.

Cap and Trade Update

California Air Resources Board is Expected to Adopt the California Cap and Trade Program at today's hearing.

According to the Air Resources Board, the Program:

  • Limits emissions from sources responsible for 85 percent of California’s Green House Gas emissions;
  • Establishes the price signal needed to drive long-term investment in cleaner fuels and more efficient use of energy; and
  • Affords covered entities flexibility to seek out and implement the lowest-cost options to reduce emissions.

For more details see the Initial Statement of Reason at http://www.arb.ca.gov/regact/2010/capandtrade10/capisor.pdf

Save the Date!

Abbott & Kindermann’s Annual Land Use, Real Estate, and Environmental Law Update

Reserve your seat for one of three seminars taking place in 2011.

In January and February 2011 Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will present its annual complimentary educational program for clients and colleagues interested in current land use, environmental, and real estate issues affecting commercial and residential development, real estate acquisition, easements, leasing and property acquisition, and mining.  In addition, the following hot topics for 2011 will be discussed:

  • Global Warming: CEQA Guidelines, Mandatory Reporting, AB 32 
  • Water Supply Assessments
  • CEQA Litigation: Exemptions, Setting the Baseline, Alternative Analysis & Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
  • Subdivision Map Extensions
  • Interpreting Development Agreements
  • Agricultural Land Mitigation
  • New General Permit Under Clean Water Act

Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will be presenting its annual program at three California locations, Sacramento, Modesto and Redding. Details for the seminars are below. We hope you can join us and look forward to seeing you there.

Modesto Conference

  • Date: Thursday, January 20, 2011
  • Location: Double Tree Hotel Modesto, 1150 Ninth Street
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Redding Conference 

  • Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2011
  • Location: Hilton Garden Inn Redding , 5050 Bechelli Lane
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Sacramento Conference

  • Date: Friday, February 11, 2011
  • Location: Sacramento Hilton Arden West, 2200 Harvard Street
  • Registration: 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. with continental breakfast
  • Program: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

There is no charge for the programs and MCLE and AICP CM credits are available. 

An RSVP will be required as space is limited. To reserve a spot, call our office at (916) 456-9595. When calling, please specify which conference you will be attending.

CARB Adopts SB 375 Targets for GHG Reductions Despite Economic Concerns

By Leslie Z. Walker

The alliances between homebuilders and conservation groups forged during the drafting of Senate Bill 375 unraveled around the Regional Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Targets for Automobiles and Light Trucks (“Targets”) adopted today by the California Air Resources Board ("CARB"). Despite the suffering building industry’s claims that the Targets are too ambitious, CARB unanimously voted to adopt the Targets. The Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008, Senate Bill 375, requires CARB to set targets for GHG reduction for 2020 and 2035 and further requires the 18 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (“MPOs”) include Sustainable Communities Strategies (“SCS”) to achieve these Targets in their Regional Transportation Plans.

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Sacramento County Climate Action Plan - Part Two

By Emilio Camacho & Leslie Walker

The County of Sacramento kicked off Phase 2 of the Climate Action Plan development at a workshop on Wednesday, August 25, 2010. Phase 2 will develop strategies to implement the Climate Action Plan (CAP), a comprehensive plan for becoming more resource efficient and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, originally released in May 2009. 

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. . . And the Number is . . . Five to Ten Percent Reduction Target for 2020

By Leslie Z. Walker

As mandated by SB 375 (Stats 2008, Ch.728) the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is required to set passenger vehicle greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reduction targets for 2020 and 2035 for each of the 18 Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) regions in California. CARB must set the targets by September 30, 2010. (Gov. Code, § 65080 subd. (b)(2)(A).)

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Baseline Depends Upon Whether You Have a New or Modified Project or Existing Project Without Significant Expansion of Use

By Katherine J. Hart

In Communities for a Better Environment v. South Coast Air Quality Management District et al., the California Supreme Court determined that the air district issuing a new permit to a petroleum refinery seeking to introduce a new industrial process to its existing refinery, incorrectly determined the baseline upon which to analyze environmental impacts. Specifically, the Court concluded the baseline could not be based on the maximum permitted operating capacity of the existing equipment but rather had to be based on the physical conditions actually existing at the time of environmental analysis. The facts are as follows.

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CEQA Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Become Law Today

By Leslie Z. Walker

Almost three years after Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr. filed suit against the County of San Bernardino for failing to consider the impacts of the County’s General Plan on Global Warming, the Amendments to the CEQA Guidelines Addressing Greenhouse Gas Emissions mandated by Senate Bill 97 (Chapter 185, Statues 2007; Pub. Resources Code, § 21083.05), take effect today. The Amendments require the quantification and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. (For more information about the Amendments, see OPR Finalizes Proposed CEQA Guidelines and Transmits Them to Resources Agency and CEQA Guidelines on Greenhouse Gases One Step Closer to Law.) Lead agencies should consult Guidelines section 15007 to determine when the Amendments apply to the agency’s actions.

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.

Bay Area Air Quality Management District Defers Adoption of Greenhouse Gas Thresholds

By Leslie Z. Walker

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (“BAAQMD”) was scheduled to be the first air district in the state to adopt quantitative as well as qualitative thresholds of significance for greenhouse gas emissions in January of 2010, but instead has delayed the decision until April of 2010. According to BAAQMD, the delay is to “provide more time for staff to meet with local governments, further develop analysis tools, and conduct trainings on applying the CEQA Guidelines.”

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2009's Top 10: Legislation, Regulations, & Cases

From the quick fix solutions for the Delta to CEQA analysis on mitigation deferral, impact fees and the feasibility of alternatives, to the scope of the Corps permitting authority, the following legislation, regulations, and cases from 2009 (listed first by type of document, then in chronological order) will have the most impact on water supply, water quality, and land use and entitlement practice (e.g., development) in California in the coming years. And remember, you read it here first!

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Reminder! Save the Date

Abbott & Kindermann’s Annual Land Use, Real Estate, and Environmental Law Update

Reserve your seat for one of three seminars taking place in 2010!

In January and February 2010 Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will present its annual complimentary educational program for clients and colleagues interested in current land use, environmental, and real estate issues affecting commercial and residential development, real estate acquisition, easements, leasing and property acquisition, and mining.  In addition, the following hot topics for 2010 will be discussed:

  • Global Warming: CEQA Guidelines, Mandatory Reporting
  • Water Supply Legislation
  • CEQA Litigation: Alternative Analysis & Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
  • Subdivision Map Extension
  • Interpreting Development Agreements
  • Endangered Species Act

Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will be presenting its annual program at three California locations: Sacramento, Modesto and Redding. Details for the seminars are below. We hope you can join us and look forward to seeing you there.

Modesto Conference

  • Date: Thursday, January 21, 2010
  • Location: Double Tree Hotel Modesto, 1150 Ninth Street
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Redding Conference 

  • Date: Thursday, January 28, 2010
  • Location: Hilton Garden Inn Redding , 5050 Bechelli Lane
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Sacramento Conference

  • Date: Friday, February 12, 2010
  • Location: Sacramento Hilton Arden West, 2200 Harvard Street
  • Registration: 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. with continental breakfast
  • Program: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

There is no charge for the programs and MCLE and AICP CM credits are available.

An RSVP will be required as space is limited. To reserve a spot, call our office at (916) 456-9595. When calling, please specify which conference you will be attending.

 

US EPA Grants California Waiver to of Clean Air Act Preemption to Enforce Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards

By Leslie Z. Walker

More than three years after the State’s initial request, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“US EPA”) granted California’s request for a waiver to allow the state to enforce its greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emission standards for new motor vehicles.  The waiver, coincidentally granted as the nation’s largest automaker works its way through bankruptcy court, allows the regulations developed by the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) in response to Assembly Bill 1493 (Chapter 200, Statutes 2002) to take effect.  The regulations add four GHGs to California’s existing regulations and phase in emission standards for those gases.

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EPA Issues Proposed Endangerment Finding for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

By Leslie Z. Walker

On April 17, 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) released a proposed finding under Section 202 of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. § 7521(a)(1)) that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere endanger the public health and welfare. (See Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act.)

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Ninth Circuit Clarifies When A Citizen Suit Under The Clean Air Act May Be Brought To Challenge The Construction Of A New Power Plant

By Glen Hansen

In Romoland School District v. Inland Empire Energy Center, LLC (9th Cir.Cal., Nov. 18, 2008, No. 06-56632) U.S.App. 23854, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit examined when the citizen suit provision of the Clean Air Act (“CAA”) may be used to halt construction of a power plant that was granted an integrated permit.

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