• Land Use Attorney Capitola

NEW CEQA CASES: Greenhouse Gas Emissions, “Piecemealing” And Other Issues.

In Sierra Club v. County of San Diego, (2014) WL 6657169, the court held that the County violated CEQA by failing to implement measures to mitigate greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions that would occur as a result of the County’s 2011 General Plan Update.

The County adopted its General Plan Update based on a Program Environmental Impact Report (“PEIR”). The PEIR included Mitigation Measure CC-1.2, under which the County committed to preparing a climate action plan (“CAP”) with “more detailed greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets and deadlines” and “comprehensive and enforceable GHG emissions reduction measures that will achieve” specified quantities of GHG reductions by the year 2020.  However, the court held that the CAP that the County later adopted did not meet the requirements of Mitigation Measure CC-1.2.  It found that the County admitted that the CAP would not ensure the required reductions, that many of the emissions reduction measures were unfunded, that the County was not making meaningful efforts to implement or fund transit-related measures, and that the CAP had no deadlines. 

The court also held that the County violated CEQA by failing to conduct environmental review on the CAP itself before approving it.  The court rejected the argument that the CAP had already undergone environmental review in the PEIR because it was essentially encompassed within the PEIR.  The court explained that the PEIR was a program-level document for the General Plan Update, whereas the CAP was a project-level action that needed project-level analysis of potential CAP impacts and mitigations.


In Paulek v. California Dept. of Water Resources, (2014) 231 Cal.App.4th 35, the court held that an EIR prepared for improvements and upgrades to the Perris Dam and Reservoir in Riverside County complied with CEQA. The court rejected challenges that the agency’s decision not to include a future structure – an emergency outlet extension – in the current EIR did not constitute improper “piecemealing”.

In Cleveland National Forest Foundation v. San Diego Association of Governments (2014) 2014 WL 6614394, the court of appeal held that an EIR prepared by the San Diego Association of Governments for  a long-term, regional transportation plan (“Plan”), violated CEQA in the following respects: the EIR failed to analyze the inconsistency between state policy goals and the Plan’s anticipated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; the EIR failed to adequately address mitigation measures of the Plan’s GHG emissions impacts; the EIR failed to analyze a reasonable range of alternatives; the EIR failed to analyze and mitigate air quality impacts, including impacts from particulate matter; and the EIR understated the Plan’s impacts on agricultural lands.

©2014 Miles J. Dolinger. This article is not intended to and does not constitute legal advice or a solicitation for the formation of an attorney-client relationship.

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