Vested Rights Under Prior Permits Do Not Establish CEQA Baseline

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Communities for a Better Environment v. South Coast Air Quality Management District et al. ___Cal.__) (March 15, 2010; Case No. S161190)

In this case, the Supreme Court of California held that neither the statute of limitations, the principles of vested rights, nor the CEQA case law on which ConocoPhillips relied, justified employing the maximum capacity allowed under prior equipment permits as an analytical baseline for a new project, rather than the physical conditions actually existing at the time of the analysis. The court therefore concluded that the South Coast Air Quality Management District (District) abused its discretion in determining ConocoPhillips' proposed project would have no significant environmental effects compared to a baseline of maximum permitted capacity.

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