Accounting for climate impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act
In 2007, the California Legislature passed S.B. 97, requiring the Office of Planning and Research to promulgate guidelines under the California Environmental Quality Act by July 2009 for the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and their effects. Until the new guidelines are released, however, developers and agencies must determine how to measure whether a project's impact on climate change is “significant,” thus triggering the requirement for an Environmental Impact Report under CEQA. The authors discuss the merits of three different approaches to determine climate change significance under CEQA and conclude that the best method to determine significance is to adopt a threshold established by reference to the state's emission-reduction.