By William Abbott

Not one to shy away from controversy, the Air Resources Board (“ARB” or “Board”), finally launched California into a new era of thinking by adopting the Climate Change Scoping Plan (“Plan”). The sacred cows were not spared as the Board took swift action to push forward the implementation of Greenhouse Gas (“GHG”) reduction strategies called for in AB 32.

Comments were made this morning ranging from undying support to pleas of mercy prior to the unanimous approval of the Plan. Concerns remain around the land use aspect of the Plan, specifically regarding the reduction targets currently set at 5 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent. Commenters argued that the hefty target may result in increased costs relating to development materials and land development costs; however ARB members reiterated that the target focuses on transportation related GHG emissions associated with land use planning and development. Essentially, the goal is to develop more efficient land use patterns that provide a better market for public transit, thereby achieving the 5 MMTCO2E goal. Whether or not this will meet with consumer acceptance is unknown.

Chairman Mary Nichols stated, “we are not the land use planning agency.”   That being said, it is hard to ignore the nine hundred pound gorilla in the elevator. If past experience means anything, it is difficult, if not impossible, to believe that state agencies will show meaningful restraint when it comes to local land use decisions. The Plan is big on lofty goals, but the devil will be in the details. Over the next three years, ARB will engage, in the rule-making phase. As outlined in the Climate Change Scoping Plan Resolution dated December 11, the ARB, in the short-term, will have one year to examine and report on the overcall costs and savings of the Plan, energy price forecasts, impacts on small businesses, etc. 

Bill Abbott is a partner 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.