Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal


This Article explores the efforts of California’s air agencies in addressing how to determine the significance of a project’s greenhouse gas emissions under CEQA, focusing on the recent guidance adopted by three of California’s largest regional air-quality agencies – the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. It also addresses work done by the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association and the California Air Resources Board (ARB), which laid the foundations for these agencies’ actions. In Section II, the Article provides a brief review of the legal concept of “significance” under CEQA, and discusses why it is so important that California develop a clear and consistent method for analyzing significance in the greenhouse gas context. In Section III, the Article provides a summary of the emerging areas of consensus among California’s air-quality regulatory agencies on some general principles regarding how to approach the issue. This general overview is followed by a discussion in Section IV of the details of each agency’s approach, which identifies areas where individual agencies differ in the specifics of how they address the question. In Section V, the Article concludes with a commentary on what has been gained from these agencies’ efforts to develop thresholds of significance for greenhouse gases.