State sues county for ignoring global warming in growth plan
- State sues county for ignoring global warming in growth planPosted 27 April 2007 in
The state attorney general sued San Bernardino County this week, alleging the county should have looked at global warming before adopting its new growth plan. According to Attorney General Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr.,the state's main environmental law requires that any environmental impacts be examined, and the law doesn't need to be changed to require a look at greenhouse gases because it's clear they will have an impact.
Published 14 April 2007 by San Bernardino County Sun (Calif.), http://www.sbsun.com/ci_5665801
By Andrew Silva
The state attorney general sued San Bernardino County this week, alleging the county should have looked at global warming before adopting its new growth plan.
"This is the most significant issue facing the county and the world," Attorney General Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr. said Friday by telephone.
It's the first suit of its kind to be filed by the state.
The state's lawsuit comes a couple of days after environmental groups sued the county on similar grounds, alleging the county's new general plan should have discussed ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Officials defend the plan, saying it follows the law and provides for sensible growth.
It's not fair to impose complex and undefined new requirements on a plan that has been in the works for years, said David Wert, county spokesman.
The state's groundbreaking law on global warming, Assembly Bill 32, wasn't signed by the governor until last September, when the general plan was in the home stretch before its final adoption last month.
"There are no state guidelines on how to address global warming in the planning process," Wert said.
Global warming wasn't raised as an issue when the county started the environmental review for the plan in October 2005, Wert said, though there were formal comments submitted by the state and others before the final plan was ratified.
The general plan is the overarching vision of where houses, businesses and open space will be over the next 25 years.
The state's global warming law calls for greenhouse gas emissions to be cut to 1990 levels by 2020.
That means the county's planning document will still be in effect long after the first deadline for dramatic reductions in emissions, Brown said.
"There's more development in San Bernardino County than any place, and that development should take place with climate in mind," he said.
The state's main environmental law requires that any environmental impacts be examined. The law doesn't need to be changed to require a look at greenhouse gases because it's clear they will have an impact, said.
Marin County, for example, is developing a new general plan that includes extensive requirements to reduce greenhouse emissions, said Alex Hinds, director of the Marin County Community Development Agency.
Global warming has quickly emerged as the newest issue in environmental law, and the Inland Empire is the first testing ground.
Suits that cite global warming as a reason to stop or change development plans have been filed against projects in Banning and Desert Hot Springs in Riverside County, against the sludge composting facility proposed west of Hinkley, and now two suits against San Bernardino County's general plan.
The other general plan suit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society.
That suit argues that global warming and drought have already made the wildfire danger more severe, and that the plan should limit growth near forested areas.
"It's really a failure to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents," said Brendan Cummings, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.
Wert counters that the general plan was drafted and adopted after numerous public meetings and with input from all the communities, including those in the forest.
"This reflects what people want in their general plan," he said.
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