Description: Challenge to vineyard conversion project.
Living Rivers Council v. County of Napa
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 09/30/2019 Opinion Download Reversing denial of Center for Biological Diversity's petition for writ of mandate in connection with assessment of greenhouse gas impacts and otherwise affirming denial of petitions for writ of mandate. California Appellate Court Found Shortcomings in Napa County’s Reliance on Woodland Preservation as Mitigation Measure for Vineyard Project. The California Court of Appeal found that the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) demonstrated that an environmental impact report’s (EIR’s) conclusion that a vineyard-conversion project would not have a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions was not supported by substantial evidence. Although the court agreed with the respondent, Napa County, that woodland preservation could mitigate the project’s greenhouse gas emissions, the court concluded that such preservation would not have mitigation or offset value if the trees “would have reasonably remained otherwise.” In this case, the court said substantial evidence did not support an inference that “trees to be permanently conserved would not reasonably have remained on the property” since the EIR did not identify the location of woodland acres that would be preserved and 40% of the property was currently undevelopable under local regulations. The court rejected other climate change arguments made by CBD, deferring to the County’s choice of methodology regarding the accounting for loss of carbon sequestration due to tree removal and regarding the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions from downed trees.