Putting the Brakes on San Diego’s Transportation Plan

The first “Sustainable Communities Strategy” adopted to guide long-range land use and transportation planning under SB 375 now has the distinction of being the first such plan set aside for failing to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act. Last week, a San Diego judge ruled that the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) abused its discretion when it certified an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for its Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS) that failed to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emission levels after 2020, in violation of an Executive Order signed by former Governor Schwarzenegger. Now, the state’s regional planning agencies and communities will have to wait for an inevitable appeal to resolve uncertainty about planning for GHG emission reductions at the intersection of CEQA, SB 375, AB 32, and Executive Order S-03-05.

BACKGROUND: EO S-03-05, AB 32, AND SB 375 -

Today, the focal point for discussing California’s efforts to reduce GHG emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change is AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, enacted in 2006. But this focus may lead to overlooking EO S-03-05, signed by Schwarzenegger in 2005. This order set three target dates for progressive reductions in emissions: (1) 2000 levels by 2010; (2) 1990 levels by 2020; and (3) 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. AB 32, a legislative centerpiece of Governor Schwarzenegger’s administration, requires only that the state’s emissions to be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020. It does not provide for longer-term emissions reductions, although the Scoping Plan that the Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted as an implementation guide discusses the 2050 goal as “the level scientists believe is necessary to reach levels that will stabilize climate.”

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