California Environmental Quality Act

News & Analysis as of

Federal Preemption May Be The Key For Calif. Railroads

Railroad operators across the U.S. are seeing a bright future due to the resurgence in freight rail traffic. Intermodal (i.e., cargo container) shipping is booming. In 2013, intermodal volume on the major railroads totaled...more

The Limits of CEQA Mitigation – Recent Judicial Applications of Nollan and Dolan

Perhaps foremost among the judicially recognized fundamental constraints on lead agencies’ power to impose various types of mitigation measures on project approvals in the CEQA process is the “doctrine of unconstitutional...more

Court of Appeal Finds: Environmental and Natural Resources Existing Flood Danger Was Not An Impact Of Proposed Dam Upgrade...

In Paulek v. California Dept. of Water Resources (2014) (October 31, 2014, E060038) __ Cal.App.4th __, the Court of Appeal upheld the final environmental impact report (“EIR”) prepared by the California Department of Water...more

CEQA Bill to Protect Native American Cultural Resources Creates New Challenges and Opportunities for Project Applicants

On September 25, 2014, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 52 ("AB 52"), which modifies the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") to add new protections for Native American cultural resources and enhances the role of...more

CEQA Lawsuit to Enforce Climate Change Mitigation Measure Prevails

On October 29, 2014 the California Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court’s judgment enforcing a mitigation measure adopted by a county in its program environmental impact report (PEIR). As of the date of this blog post,...more

Bakken Crude-by-Rail Update: Transloading Projects Dealt a Setback in California

Recently, we covered environmental groups’ increasing array of state-law challenges to midstream and end users of Bakken crude that transport or receive oil by rail. Since then, a California regulator has admitted to...more

Climate Action Plan for San Diego County Struck Down Under CEQA by Court of Appeal for Failure to Comply with Requirements for...

On October 29, 2014, the Fourth District Court of Appeal of California upheld the Sierra Club’s challenges to the County of San Diego’s (“County”) approval of a climate action plan (“CAP”) and related significance thresholds...more

Supreme Court Finally Schedules Oral Argument In CEQA Categorical Exemption Case

At long last, the California Supreme Court has scheduled oral argument in the case of Berkeley Hillside Preservation, et al. v. City of Berkeley, Supreme Court Case No. S201116. By its long-awaited order issued October 31,...more

Fourth District Addresses CEQA Issues Concerning Standing, Mitigation, Baseline, Piecemealing, And Responses To Comments In...

In a published decision filed October 31, 2014 (Paulek v. California Department of Water Resources (4th Dist., Div. 2, 2014) ___ Cal.App.4th ____, Case No. E060038), the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the Riverside...more

Voters to Decide Whether to Make $7.5 Billion Available for Water Projects

In one week, California voters will determine whether to pass Proposition 1, which would approve the Water, Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 and make $7.5 billion available for water quality, supply...more

California Environmental Law and Policy Update - October 2014 #4

Environmental and Policy Focus - Groups sue EPA over failure to reduce air pollution: KPCC - Oct 17: Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco against the U.S. Environmental...more

Supreme Court Adds Another CEQA Case To Its Docket, Will Review Fifth District’s Sierra Club v. County of Fresno (“Friant Ranch”)...

On October 1, 2014, the California Supreme Court granted the Real Party in Interest developer’s petition for review in Sierra Club v. County of Fresno (5th Dist. 2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 704, now unciteable and pending review...more

Environmental Groups Seek to Derail Bakersfield Crude-by-Rail Project

A coalition of environmental groups has filed a lawsuit challenging Kern County’s approval of the first substantial oil-by-rail expansion project at a California refinery, alleging that the comprehensive Environmental Impact...more

Update on the California High Speed Rail System

James Andrew, Assistant Chief Counsel for the California High-Speed Rail Authority (“CHSRA”), spoke Tuesday, October 14, at the Sacramento County Bar Association, Environmental Law Section Luncheon. He stated that High-Speed...more

Real Estate and Land Use - October 2014

Accepting a Permit “Under Protest” Does Not Work in the Coastal Zone - (Lynch v. California Coastal Commission (2014) 229 Cal. App. 4th 658): Why it matters: Lynch v. California Coastal Commission firmly dispels the...more

Fall 2014 CEQA Roundup: Legislative and Regulatory Developments

A number of recent legislative and regulatory developments in or related to CEQA will impact public agencies, developers, and practitioners in the coming year. Some significant recent developments include: SB 743...more

First District Holds CEQA’s Application To Public Agency’s Approval of Railroad Operations Is Preempted By Federal Law Despite...

The North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA), a public agency established by state law, contracted with Northwestern Pacific Railroad Company (NWPRC) to allow NWPRC to conduct freight services on tracks controlled by NCRA....more

CEQA Alert: CEQA Does Not Apply to Approval of Proposed Railroad Operations – Express Preemption by ICCTA

California’s First Appellate District has held that federal law preempts CEQA’s application to the approval of proposed railroad operations. Although this was an issue of first impression for a California appellate court,...more

Update: Comment Period for OPR Rethink of CEQA Guidelines on Transportation Impacts Extended Until November 21, 2014

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) has extended the comment period for its draft of changes to the way that transportation impacts are analyzed under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The new...more

Tribe’s Gamble That Casino Land Transfer Approval Not Subject to CEQA Pays Off

Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians v. Brown, C074506 (9/24/2014) - In a recent Third District Court of Appeal published opinion, the court in Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians v. Edmund G. Brown, Jr. (3rd....more

Public Agency May Recover the Cost of Supplementing Administrative Record

In CEQA litigation, the party challenging the project can either request that the agency prepare the record of proceedings (“Record”), or prepare the Record itself, subject to certification by the lead agency. In either case,...more

Attorney Labor For Preparing CEQA Administrative Record Is Recoverable Cost Where Specialized Knowledge Required, Holds Fourth...

In a partially-published opinion filed September 29, 2014, the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed an order and judgment permitting the County of San Diego to recover actual labor costs incurred for an attorney and...more

Viewpoint: Analysis of New Framework for Transportation Impact Under CEQA

Viewpoint: Analysis of New Framework for Transportation Impact Under CEQA - On August 6, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) released a preliminary discussion draft of amendments to the California...more

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan to Streamline Permitting for 20,000 Megawatts of Renewable Energy

On September 23, 2014, the California Energy Commission (“CEC”), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (“CDFW”), US Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”), and US Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) released the Draft...more

California Proposes Overhaul of Standards for Analyzing Traffic Impacts

Last month Governor Jerry Brown’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) released for public review and debate proposed draft amendments to the California Environmental Quality Act’s implementing guidelines (CEQA Guidelines)....more

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