Analyzing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Under CEQA: Why the Questions Left Unanswered by Newhall Ranch Have Demonstrated the Need for an Update to the CEQA Guidelines
by Martin P. Stratte* and Jonathan E. Shardlow**
"It’s time for courage, it’s time for creativity and it’s time for boldness to tackle climate change . . . The risk is real, the cost is huge and growing, and therefore taking a sequence of realistic steps just makes sense, and that’s what we’re going to do in California."1
âCalifornia Governor Jerry Brown
When a lead agency analyzes the environmental impacts of a "project"2 in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), one of the issues that must be analyzed "is whether a project will significantly increase greenhouse gas [(GHG)] emissions."3This requirement was enacted in 2007 through Senate Bill 97 (SB 97), which directed the Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to prepare, and the California Natural Resources Agency (Resources Agency) to adopt, guidelines outlining how lead agencies should analyze the significance of GHG emissions.4 Since then, the Legislature has continued to enact regulations intended to aggressively reduce the state’s GHG emissions.