While consultants and staff continue to work on Sonoma County’s long anticipated Climate Action 2020 plan for mitigating our local share of greenhouse gas pollution, two recent lawsuits in San Diego County may already be setting precedents that could effect us here in the North Bay.
In the first case settled last month, the state Supreme Court decided not to review the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s decision in a suit originally filed by the Sierra Club. The environmental organization had sued San Diego County after it failed to include enforceable measures for curbing greenhouse-gas levels in its Climate Action Plan, a long-range planning document that addresses everything from transportation projects to housing construction and other types of development. As a result, that county will now be required to set tangible targets for dealing with the effects of climate change.
In the second case, the California Supreme Court will review a lawsuit filed by the Cleveland National Forest Foundation against the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). Many anticipate that this case could result in a ruling that determines exactly what California’s rules are for dealing with carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases linked to global warming. The central point in this appeal will be whether Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2005 executive order [S-3-05] sets an enforceable timeline of 2050 for cutting greenhouse gases by 80 percent below 1990 levels.
While Sonoma County’s plan is expected to at least affirm or even exceed these statewide targets, such case law precedents should help make the path forward much clearer for all concerned.