For Immediate Release, June 19, 2008
Contact: Brian Nowicki, Center for Biological Diversity, (916) 201-6938 (cell)
Two Years After First Environmental Challenges, California Confirms
That All Development Must Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
California Environmental Quality Act Requires New Sources to
Implement All Feasible Measures to Reduce Global Warming
SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The governor’s Office of Planning and Research today issued a technical advisory clarifying that all projects reviewed under the California Environmental Quality Act, also known as CEQA, must pursue all feasible measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, almost two years since the Center for Biological Diversity first began challenging those emissions under the Act. The advisory extends to new residential and commercial developments, municipal growth plans and transportation plans, industrial sources, and other sources of greenhouse gases.
“This has always been implicit in the California Environmental Quality Act and an issue we have been working to clarify for the past few years,” said Brian Nowicki, California climate policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The California Environmental Quality Act is a key tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and will continue to be critical to California’s efforts to stop global warming.”
The California Environmental Quality Act, California’s landmark environmental law, requires state and local agencies to disclose all significant environmental impacts and adopt feasible measures to reduce those impacts. State leaders in California have previously determined — as in Executive Order S-3-05 and AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act — that global warming poses a tremendous threat to the state and have committed to deeply reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Today’s advisory instructs project proponents and agencies that they must work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions now under CEQA, rather than waiting for more specific regulations from the state.
“There are countless opportunities to make great reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions using methods and technologies readily available today,” said Nowicki. “The California Environmental Quality Act works at the project level to encourage planners and engineers to make the on-the-ground changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
The Center for Biological Diversity has been working for years to encourage project planners and government agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through CEQA. California Attorney General Jerry Brown also has been using CEQA to engage polluters and local governments on the issue. However, many highly polluting operations and local governments have continued to claim that they need not reduce greenhouse gas pollution until they are directly regulated under AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act.
“Today’s advisory tells polluters to stop stalling and get to work making the changes we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Nowicki. “California has wisely committed to reducing our greenhouse gas pollution by 80 percent by 2050, and that can only happen if we use every tool in the toolbox to stop increasing our emissions now.”
The governor’s Office of Planning and Research is the state agency that oversees the implementation of CEQA. Under SB 97, a mandate that came out of last year’s state budget stalemate, the agency is also developing specific guidance for the mitigation of greenhouse emissions under CEQA; that guidance is not expected until early 2010.
Today’s technical advisory from the California Office of Planning and Research can be found at: http://opr.ca.gov/index.php?a=ceqa/index.html.
More information on the Center’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the California Environmental Quality Act can be found at: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/ceqa/index.html.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization with more than 180,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.