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Court Rules Business as Usual Method of Evaluating GHG Impacts Under CEQA Was Unlawful Where Baseline Reflected Hypothetical

  • The Superior Court for the County of Riverside ruled on the much anticipated case addressing the business as usual (BAU) method for evaluating the threshold of significance for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
  • The court found that the challenged environmental impact report (EIR) did not properly evaluate a proposed development project under the BAU method, but instead improperly used a worst case scenario to evaluate the impacts from GHG emissions attributable to the project.
  • While the court did not conclude that the BAU methodbased on compliance with the California Air Resources Boards (CARBs) Scoping Plan adopted under AB 32was per se unlawful, the decision warrants caution in how project proponents establish what constitutes a proper baseline for evaluating the significance of a projects GHG emissions impacts on the environment.

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