Description: Challenge to desalination facility.
North Coast Rivers Alliance v. Marin Municipal Water District Board of Directors
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 05/21/2013 Opinion Download Opinion issued. In 2009, the Marin Municipal Water District Board of Directors (Board) certified a final environmental impact report (EIR) for and subsequently approved the construction of a desalination plant that would extract raw seawater from San Rafael Bay, remove solids from the raw water by using reverse osmosis, and discharge a saline brine back into the bay. Plaintiffs challenged the project, and the trial court set aside the Board’s decisions. Among other faults, the trial court found that the EIR failed to adequately discuss the alternative of using green energy credits to mitigate the project’s energy impacts and that the EIR’s conclusion that the project’s greenhouse gas emissions would not be cumulatively considerable was not supported by substantial evidence. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision. The appellate court determined that because the EIR concluded that the project’s energy impacts would be insignificant, there was no need to discuss green energy credits as an alternative mitigation measure. The appellate court also determined that the facts and analysis in the EIR were sufficient to support the conclusion that the impact on greenhouse gas emissions would not be cumulatively considerable. The appellate court noted, among other things, that the EIR’s analysis concluded that the project would not interfere with the county goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 15 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and that the Board had adopted a policy requiring offsets for all project-related greenhouse gas emissions.