Late last month the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) released two documents of interest to CEQA practitioners. One is a discussion draft of a “CEQA and Climate Change Advisory.” The other is an update to its previous “Technical Advisory on Evaluating Transportation Impacts in CEQA.”
The discussion draft updates OPR’s approach to greenhouse gas emissions since the first GHG advisory was issued in 2008. In particular, it responds to the Natural Resources Agency’s updates to the CEQA Guidelines made in late 2018, in particular Guidelines § 15064.4.
The discussion draft essentially restates (with supporting detail) the three guiding principles for analyzing GHG emissions under CEQA. First, the lead agency must determine the proper method for quantifying or describing a project’s GHG emissions, and, when possible, should quantify a project’s construction and operational GHG emissions, and determine their amounts, types, and sources. Second, the agency must determine whether or not those emissions give rise to a significant impact on climate change in the context of their individual contribution to global GHG emissions (which is essentially a cumulative impact analysis). Determining the appropriate threshold of significance to determine whether the project’s contribution is “cumulatively considerable” is of particular importance in this context. Third, in the event the project does give rise to potentially significant GHG-related impacts, the agency must analyze and impose all feasible mitigation measures needed to reduce impacts to a less-than-significant level.
The purpose of the advisory is to provide guidance to lead agencies in considering their approach to GHG impacts and analyses in CEQA documents. Comments on the draft are due by Friday, March 15 at 5:00 p.m. The draft is available for review at http://opr.ca.gov/docs/20181228-Discussion_Draft_Climate_Change_Adivsory.pdf.
The technical advisory on transportation impacts is an update to the original advisory released in April of 2018. This represents OPR’s response to the mandate set forth in SB 743 (links to prior CEQA blog posts on SB 743 are here and here), the landmark legislation that replaced the venerable level of service (LOS) standard for evaluating project-related traffic impacts with a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) metric. The advisory sets forth OPR’s recommendations for evaluating impacts based on VMT, including thresholds of significance, mitigation measures, and alternatives.
The technical advisory on transportation impacts is a fairly dense document that agencies, consultants, and attorneys dealing with these issues should review carefully. The updated document is available at http://opr.ca.gov/docs/20181228-743_Technical_Advisory.pdf.
OAL Approves Final Revised CEQA Guidelines
As of January 3, 2019, the Office of Administrative Law approved the changes to the CEQA Guidelines adopted by the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency in November of 2018, and those updates are now – at last – legally effective. CEQA Developments reviewed these updates last month (https://www.ceqadevelopments.com/2018/12/11/2018-year-end-ceqa-round-up/). The updated Guidelines, along with supporting materials such as a statement of reasons, public comments and responses, etc., are available at http://resources.ca.gov/ceqa/.
Questions? Please contact Arthur F. Coon and Matthew Henderson of Miller Starr Regalia. Miller Starr Regalia has had a well-established reputation as a leading real estate law firm for more than fifty years. For nearly all that time, the firm also has written Miller & Starr, California Real Estate 4th, a 12-volume treatise on California real estate law. “The Book” is the most widely used and judicially recognized real estate treatise in California and is cited by practicing attorneys and courts throughout the state. The firm has expertise in all real property matters, including full-service litigation and dispute resolution services, transactions, acquisitions, dispositions, leasing, financing, common interest development, construction, management, eminent domain and inverse condemnation, title insurance, environmental law and land use. For more information, visit www.msrlegal.com.