Description: Challenge to Placer County's environmental review for a land use specific plan and rezoning to allow residential and commercial development and preserve forest land near Truckee and Lake Tahoe.
League to Save Lake Tahoe Mountain Area Preservation Foundation v. County of Placer
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 02/14/2022 Opinion Download Judgments of trial court affirmed in part and reversed in part. California Appellate Court Issued Mixed Ruling on Climate-Related Issues in CEQA Case About Rezoning Near Lake Tahoe and Truckee. The California Court of Appeal found that certain aspects of Placer County’s environmental review of a land use specific plan and rezoning to allow residential and commercial development and preserve forest land near Truckee and Lake Tahoe did not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) but upheld other aspects of the CEQA review. The climate change-related aspects of the CEQA review at issue in the case included a greenhouse gas emission measure, cumulative impacts on forest resources, and the project’s energy impacts. The appellate court found that the mitigation measure—which required imposition of mitigation if a future application for subdivision approval would not meet then-existent, formally adopted emission targets—was invalid because it was conditioned on the existence of targets that did not yet exist. The court also found that the environmental impact report (EIR) should have addressed whether renewable energy features could be incorporated as part of its consideration of the project’s impact on energy resources. But the court rejected a contention that recirculation of the final EIR was required because it adopted a new threshold of significance for greenhouse gas emissions, revealing “fare more severe climate impacts” than the draft EIR. The court also rejected a claim that the analysis of cumulative impacts on forest resources had to include the effect of tree loss due to climate change. After noting that climate change was “fundamentally different” from other types of cumulative impacts and that CEQA did not “lend itself well” to evaluating impacts “caused by something other than a physical project,” the court said the EIR had properly addressed the project’s contribution to climate change’s impacts on forest resources by quantifying and analyzing the project’s construction and operational greenhouse gas emissions.