For Immediate Release, January 8, 2009
Contact: Brian Nowicki, Center for Biological Diversity, (916) 201-6938 (cell)
California Issues Draft California Environmental Quality Act Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas Emissions; Draft Guidelines Miss Opportunities to Reduce Global Warming From New Sources
SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The governor’s Office of Planning and Research today issued draft amendments to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines for addressing greenhouse gas emissions. The changes require projects to consider whether they will comply or interfere with the state’s effort to reduce California’s statewide emission levels, and to consider “ all feasible means of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.” However, the changes exclude recommendations to increase greenhouse gas reductions and associated benefits to California.
“The California Environmental Quality Act is a key tool for California to efficiently and effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new sources using methods and technologies readily available today,” said Brian Nowicki of the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is disappointing that the governor has excluded so many obvious opportunities to facilitate common-sense solutions to global warming.”
The proposed guidelines fail to set criteria for determining what level greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to — known as significance thresholds. They also shy away from changes that would help ensure that all new greenhouse gas sources consider all available options to reduce their emissions.
At the same time, in ongoing negotiations over the state budget, Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed exemptions to the Act for infrastructure and transportation projects. Such exemptions would have no substantive benefit for the state budget, but would remove any opportunity for these very large projects to implement available measures to reduce their greenhouse gas impacts.
Another law, known as SB97, which was passed in 2007, required the state to develop specific guidance for the mitigation of greenhouse emissions under the California Environmental Quality Act by 2010. The guidelines would apply to new residential and commercial developments, municipal growth plans and transportation plans, industrial sources, and other sources of greenhouse gases. In June 2008 the Office of Planning and Research issued a technical advisory that clarified that all projects reviewed under the the Act must pursue all feasible measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
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. The Center for Biological Diversity has been working for years to encourage project planners and government agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the Act. California Attorney General Jerry Brown has also been encouraging project proponents and local governments to comply with their CEQA obligations. However, many highly polluting operations and local governments have continued to claim that they need not reduce greenhouse gas pollution until they are regulated under AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act.
Today’s draft guidelines 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 200,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.