A recently published CEQA case – Rodeo Citizens Association v. County of Contra Costa addresses issues related to project description, greenhouse gas analysis, and accident release analysis.
The First District Court of Appeal upheld an EIR’s GHG analysis for an existing Phillips 66 refinery. The court found it acceptable under CEQA for the EIR to not quantify greenhouse gas emissions from downstream uses of recovered propane and butane because 1) The lead agency has discretion to design the EIR; 2) An EIR only has to evaluate impacts to the extent reasonably feasible; 3) CEQA does not require an evaluation of speculative impacts such as the behavior of end users. The court relied on comments from BAAQMD (agency with “substantial expertise in air emissions”) agreeing that “further analysis of the potential impacts was impractical and not required.”
The court also rejected Petitioner’s claim that the project description was incomplete because substantial evidence established that the project was unrelated to a potential change in crude oil feedstock. Finally, the court upheld the EIR’s accidental release analysis and noted that a cumulative impacts analysis should be guided by the standards of practicality and reasonableness.