Tag: CEQA

First Quarter CEQA Update in Under 60 Seconds

Okay, maybe slightly longer than 60 seconds.  The point being, though, that CEQA case updates really should not read like law school case briefs.  Long discussion of the lower court’s findings?  No thank you.  Point/counterpoint for each and every argument made by petitioners?  No one has time for that.  Get in, get out and move … Continue Reading

With SB 1262, SGMA Becomes Further Entrenched in California’s Water Supply Planning Laws

With Senate Bill 1262 (“SB 1262”), California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”) has become firmly rooted into the State’s water supply planning laws. Specifically, SB 1262 amends the Water Supply Assessment statute (commonly referred to as “SB 610”) and the Written Verification statute (commonly referred to as “SB 221”). Background – SB 610 & SB … Continue Reading

Environmental Challenge Blasts Kern County Oil and Gas Rules

On Thursday, December 10, environmental organizations filed a complaint against Kern County in California Superior Court alleging that the County violated the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) by preparing a “grossly inadequate” Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) for its new oil and gas rules.  The Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Natural Resources Defense … Continue Reading

How to Fix Your GHG Analysis After the California Supreme Court’s Newhall Ranch Decision

My colleague, Michael Sherman, posted yesterday about two issues decided in the California Supreme Court’s decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Today, I’ll address the part of the decision that involves the evaluation of the Newhall Ranch project’s greenhouse gas emissions.  In short, the Court just made it a … Continue Reading

Kern County Acts to Streamline Oil & Gas Permitting

In a process that took nearly three years to complete, on Monday, November 9, the Kern County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a significant change to its oil and gas regulations. The change affects Title 19 of the Kern County Zoning Ordinance and provides a streamline permitting process for oil and gas operations. The change … Continue Reading

Environmental Justice Lawsuit Accuses L.A. of Discriminatory Oil Permitting

On Friday, November 6, three environmental organizations filed suit against the City of Los Angeles in California Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles. The three groups, Youth for Environmental Justice, the Center for Biological Diversity and the South Central Youth Leadership Coalition, allege that the “City of Los Angeles has for years employed … Continue Reading

Activists ask Court to Scrap EIR and Stop Fracking

Today, July 30, the Center for Biological Diversity (“CBD”) filed a complaint in Sacramento County Superior Court against the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”). CBD claims, among other things, that DOGGR failed to comply with Senate Bill 4 (“SB 4”) by releasing its Final EIR regarding oil and gas well stimulation treatment … Continue Reading

DOGGR Releases Final Well Stimulation EIR

Yesterday, July 1, 2015, pursuant to Senate Bill 4 (“SB 4”) the State Oil & Gas Supervisor Steven Bohlen, head of the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”), certified a Final Environmental Impact Report (“Final EIR”) for oil and gas well stimulation treatments. As presented in the Final EIR, for the … Continue Reading

Developer Catches a Break in California Supreme Court CEQA Ruling

In Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley, No. S201116 (Cal. Mar. 2, 2015) (slip op), the California Supreme Court overturned an appeals court ruling that banned developers from using an exemption under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) to avoid undertaking an environmental impact report (“EIR”) for the construction of a proposed two-story 10,000-square-foot … Continue Reading

Sacramento Kings – 2, Opponents – 0: Court Rules that the Downtown Arena Satisfies Environmental Review Requirements

In Saltonstall, et al. v. City of Sacramento, No. C077772 (Cal. Ct. App. 3rd Dist., Feb. 18, 2015), the Third Appellate District affirmed the judgment of the Superior Court in holding that the City of Sacramento did not violate the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) by beginning construction of the downtown arena. This appeal comes … Continue Reading

Big Developments for Oil and Gas Operators Utilizing Well Stimulation Treatments

Today saw two significant developments for oil and gas operators utilizing well stimulation treatments in California. Pursuant to SB 4, the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources released a statewide programmatic Draft Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) analyzing the potential environmental impacts associated with well stimulation treatments, including hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”). … Continue Reading

Update on the California High Speed Rail System

James Andrew, Assistant Chief Counsel for the California High-Speed Rail Authority (“CHSRA”), spoke Tuesday, October 14, at the Sacramento County Bar Association, Environmental Law Section Luncheon.  He stated that High-Speed Rail (“HSR”) is a “transformative project” in that it will be the largest infrastructure project ever built as one single project.  However, the “regulatory scheme has not … Continue Reading

Governor Signs Two New CEQA Bills

Governor Brown has signed two new bills amending the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  AB 52 establishes new consultation procedures with California Native American tribes, and provides that an adverse change to a tribal cultural resource is a significant impact under CEQA.  AB 1104 extends an existing CEQA exemption for certain pipeline projects to biogas … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Confirms CEQA Exemption for Voter-Sponsored Initiatives

In Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance v. Superior Court, No. S207173 (Supreme Court, Aug. 7, 2014), the California Supreme Court ruled that the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) does not apply when a lead agency receives a voter initiative petition that qualifies under the Elections Code and the lead agency chooses to adopt the … Continue Reading

Treasure Island Update: San Francisco EIR Specific Enough

In Citizens for a Sustainable Treasure Island v. City & County of San Francisco, No. A137828 (Cal. Ct. App. 1st Dist., July 7, 2014), the First Appellate District upheld an environmental impact report (“EIR”) for the renovation of Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay.  Citizens for a Sustainable Treasure Island (“CSTI”) argued that the City … Continue Reading

Ground Control to Major Tom: Appeals Court Shuts Down CEQA Challenge to San Jose Airport Master Plan

In Citizens Against Airport Pollution v. City of San Jose, No. H038781 (Cal. Ct. App. 6th Dist., June 6, 2014), Citizens Against Airport Pollution (“CAAP”) appealed the trial court’s ruling that the City of San Jose’s (“City”) approval of the eighth addendum to the 1997 Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) for the Airport Master Plan did not … Continue Reading

San Mateo Tree Removal Suit Felled by CEQA Statute of Limitations

In Citizens for a Green San Mateo v. San Mateo Cnty. Comm. College Dist. et al., No. A137612 (Cal. Ct. App. 1st Dist., June 17, 2014), the First District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision and found that a lawsuit filed by Citizens for a Green San Mateo (“Citizens”) against the San Mateo … Continue Reading

What’s a ROG and Can It Hurt Me? EIR Overturned For Failure to Explain Air Quality Impacts to Human Health

In Sierra Club v. County of Fresno (Cal. Ct. App. 5th Dist. May 27, 2014), the Fifth Appellate District found fault with the County of Fresno’s (County)  review of the Friant Ranch Project (Project) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The appellate court concluded that the County’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) did not sufficiently … Continue Reading

Department of Conservation Issues Revised, Proposed Well Stimulation Treatment Regulations

On June 13, 2014, the Department of Conservation (“Department”)  issued a public notice and posted the latest version of the proposed regulations for the use of well stimulation in oil and gas production (“Revised Proposed Regulations”).  These are revisions to the permanent regulations that will go into effect on January 1, 2015.  The Revised Proposed … Continue Reading

Court Finds No CEQA Necessary For Utility Cabinets on San Francisco Sidewalks

In San Francisco Beautiful v. City and County of San Francisco, No. CPF11511535, (Cal. Ct. App. 1st Dist. May 30, 2014), the First Appellate District upheld San Francisco's application of a categorical exemption to exempt from CEQA review the installation by AT&T of 726 utility cabinets on public sidewalks. AT&T applied for a categorical exemption for its "Lightspeed" project (the Project), which is intended to upgrade broad band Internet speed and capabilities. The majority of the utility cabinets would be approximately 48 inches high, 51.7 inches wide, and 26 inches deep. (Slip Op. at p. 2.) Although AT&T had not determined precisely where the new utility cabinets would be located, the new cabinets would be "paired" with or placed within 300 feet of existing AT&T utility cabinets. (Ibid.) In response to community concerns, AT&T also promised to affix a 24-hour-a-day contact number for reporting graffiti directly to AT&T and a system in which AT&T personnel would remove the graffiti. (Ibid. at p. 3.) In 2010, AT&T submitted a revised application for a categorical exemption pursuant to section 15303(d) of the CEQA Guidelines (Guidelines), and the San Francisco Planning Department (SFPD) determined that the Project was categorically exempt from CEQA, leading to the present litigation. The trial court denied plaintiffs' challenge, and they appealed.… Continue Reading

Will the California Supreme Court Close the Door to a CEQA Exemption the Legislature Has Refused to Close?

The California Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance v. Superior Court, No. S207173 (case submitted May 28, 2014), a case that gives the Justices the opportunity to determine whether a City Council's adoption of a voter-sponsored initiative measure, without submitting that measure to a popular vote, was a discretionary act that required CEQA review prior to approval. The Court of Appeal held that the City Council's act was subject to CEQA and that the City Council should have conducted environmental review. (See Tuolomne Jobs & Small Business Alliance v. Sup. Ct. (2012) 210 Cal.App.4th 1006, cert. granted, No. S207173.) It is established that the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) does not apply to a project approved by ballot initiative, where the initiative was placed on the ballot by the voters and adopted by the voters in an election. (14 Cal. Code Regs. § 15378(b); DeVita v. County of Napa (1995) 9 Cal.4th 763, 794.) In Tuolumne, however, the Appellants Wal-Mart and James Grinnell (jointly, Appellants) took a different approach in seeking to expand an existing Wal-Mart store to a Wal-Mart Supercenter in the City of Sonora. The Appellants submitted a petition supported by the signatures of more than 20 percent of the City of Sonora's 2,489 registered voters to expand the Wal-Mart. The City Council then chose not to submit the measure to an election, and instead, adopted the initiative as an ordinance on its own authority under California Elections Code section 9214(a). Although an EIR was prepared in advance, it was never certified by the City Council. Under California Elections Code section 9214, when a project applicant submits a voter-sponsored initiative petition to the legislative body of a public agency, signed by at least 15 percent of registered voters, with a request that the ordinance be immediately submitted to a special vote, that body must either: (a) adopt the ordinance, without alteration; (b) immediately order a special election and place the measure on the ballot for popular vote; or (c) order a report pursuant to Elections Code section 9212, which allows for abbreviated environmental review. The Justices seemed particularly interested in understanding the legislative policy behind the Elections Code's apparent conflict with CEQA and closely questioned the parties at the hearing packed with interested parties.… Continue Reading

High-Speed Rail Fresno to Bakersfield Route Approved

The California High Speed Rail Authority’s (the “Authority”) Board of Directors unanimously voted on Wednesday to certify the Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement for the Fresno to Bakersfield alignment of the high-speed rail project (the “Project”) and approve the selected alignment.  Click HERE for a map of the approved alignment.  The Federal Railroad Administration … Continue Reading

“Late Hit” Document Dump CEQA Reform Proposed by SB 1451

At one time or another, in almost every jurisdiction around the state, on the day before an important project land use hearing, an opponent of the project has submitted a lengthy comment letter (often accompanied by voluminous attachments) alleging that the environmental analysis does not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  The lead … Continue Reading

Court Clarifies “Taking” Of Endangered Species And Highlights What’s “Enough” Under CEQA

In Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Dep’t of Fish & Wildlife, No. B245141 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Mar. 20, 2014), the appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision, which found that the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (“Department”) certification of an environmental impact statement and report (“EIR”) was “not supported by substantial evidence.”  In … Continue Reading
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