Monday, January 12, 2015

Prof. Selmi on California Appellate Court's Rebuke of Sustainability Plan

By Professor Dan Selmi, Fritz B. Burns Chair in Real Property

This post originally appeared on the Climate Law Blog of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School.

In an emphatic opinion, a state appellate court has invalidated the environmental impact report for the first “sustainable communities strategy” prepared by a regional council of government in California. In Cleveland National Forest Foundation v. San Diego Association of Governments, the court found that the impact report did not evaluate the plan’s consistency with an executive order setting reduction targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The report also did not sufficiently analyze alternatives and mitigation measures. Unless the California Supreme Court hears the case, the opinion will ensure that sustainable community strategies, which integrate transportation planning with efforts to reduce GHGs, must undertake a long-range examination of how those plans will affect such reductions.

AB 32 is California’s most well-known law on climate protection. However, a second law, the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008, directed the state’s Air Resources Board to develop regional GHG reduction targets for autos and light trucks by 2020 and 2035. It then required regional planning agencies to adopt “sustainable communities strategies” that would meet those reduction targets. The sustainable communities strategy would be a part of each planning agency’s long-term regional transportation plan. Additionally, an Executive Order issued by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger required reduction of GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Read the complete post.

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