CEQA Litigation and Settlements
The Attorney General’s Office employs the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and related laws to ensure that local governments take seriously their obligation to consider potential environmental impacts, especially those that may affect the public health and welfare. The Attorney General enforces CEQA by submitting comment letters to lead agencies that are undertaking CEQA review. Where necessary and appropriate, the Attorney General also litigates CEQA challenges, settles CEQA claims at the earliest opportunity, and submits amicus briefs on CEQA matters presenting issues of statewide concern.
CEQA Comment Letters
- Mira Loma Industrial/Warehouse Project. In September 2011, the Attorney General intervened in a CEQA lawsuit challenging approval of an industrial and warehouse project next to Mira Loma Village, a primarily Hispanic community already affected by exhaust and noise pollution. The parties reached a settlement, which the court entered on February 14, 2013. The City and the project developers agreed to a variety of mitigating actions, including: instituting proceedings for preparation of an Environmental Justice Element to be added to the City's General Plan; installing air filtration systems in the homes of nearby residents; instituting an air quality monitoring program; instituting proceedings to adopt an ordinance to prohibit heavy trucks on the road adjacent to Mira Loma Village; and implementing an anti-idling enforcement program. Read the settlement, pdf.
- San Diego Regional Transportation Plan. In January 2012, the Attorney General intervened in a CEQA case challenging the adequacy of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) certified by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) for its 2050 Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy. The Attorney General alleged that the EIR did not address the long-term greenhouse gas related impacts of the long-term plan, and, in addition, failed to disclose and analyze the public health impacts of vehicle pollution, including particulate matter. On December 3, 2012, the superior court ruled that the EIR’s discussion and analysis of greenhouse gas emissions is inadequate. Read the ruling, pdf. The matter is now on appeal. Read SANDAG’s Opening Brief on Appeal, pdf. Read the Attorney General’s Responding Brief and Opening Brief on Appeal, pdf.
CEQA Amicus Briefs
On January 16, 2013, the Attorney General submitted an amicus brief in Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley, a CEQA case now pending in the California Supreme Court. The case will decide the steps and standards that apply to “categorical exemptions” from CEQA’s requirements. In the brief, the Attorney General argues for an approach that will encourage the use of categorical exemptions while, at the same time, protect the environment and public health. Read the amicus brief, pdf.