Global warming and CEQA

Republican state senators may not like it, but Attorney General Jerry Brown’s lawsuit to compel San Bernardino County to consider greenhouse gases in its new general plan has borne good fruit.

On Tuesday (August. 21), Brown’s office announced the suit had been settled and the county had agreed, via a 30-month public process, to adopt a greenhouse-gas-emissions reduction plan. The plan mandates an inventory of all greenhouse-gas sources in the county, an inventory of emissions levels in 1990 and projected for 2020, and a target for discretionary reductions under the state’s landmark Global Warming Reduction Act.

For their part, county officials seemed proud that they were adding greenhouse gasses to the list of impacts to be considered under the California Environmental Quality Act, the state’s signature environmental law. The county “will lead the way in the implementation strategies and steps to enhance our future and serve as a model for others,” Gary C. Ovitt, vice chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said in a press release.

The state’s global-warming law is intentionally vague. The assumption was that its implementation details would be filled in over time. Jerry Brown saw a way to participate in that process. The settlement his office obtained suggests that other California cities and counties—including Chico and Butte—that are preparing or have recently written new general plans will need to follow San Bernardino’s example. That’s a good thing.