• California Governor's Office of Planning and Research Proposes New CEQA Guidelines to Address Greenhouse Gases
  • May 11, 2009
  • Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - San Francisco Office
  • On April 13, 2009, the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research ("OPR") submitted to the Secretary for Natural Resources its proposed amendments to the state CEQA Guidelines for greenhouse gas emissions, as required by Senate Bill 97 (Chapter 185, 2007). These proposed CEQA Guidelines amendments are intended to address the analysis and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in draft CEQA documents.

    OPR proposed a new section to assist lead agencies in determining the significance of the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions. (See Section 15064.4.) This section urges lead agencies to quantify the greenhouse gas emissions of proposed projects where possible. OPR drafted general descriptions of emissions to capture all relevant emissions resulting from a project and to avoid any suggestion that lead agencies should consider emissions related only to traffic and energy use. Similarly, OPR encouraged lead agencies to consider the full range of project features that may increase or decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

    OPR also proposed the addition of a new subdivision intended to clarify that the benefits of a project that may be considered in a statement of overriding considerations may include not just local benefits, but also regional or statewide benefits. (See section 15093(d).) Another new subdivision emphasizes that the effects of greenhouse gas emissions are cumulative and should be analyzed in the context of CEQA’s requirements for cumulative impacts analysis. (See Section 15130(f).)

    Following OPR’s proposal, the Natural Resources Agency will begin a formal rulemaking process to certify and adopt the amendments as part of the state regulations implementing CEQA. The Natural Resources Agency should complete this process by January 2010.