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Climate Change and Green Initiatives

Many of our clients are public agencies who are either enacting climate change policies or need to stay ahead of—not just in step with—evolving state and national climate change regulations. Our position as legal advisor to these entities has given us a unique and leading-edge vantage point on climate change issues. This perspective benefits all our clients, whether public or private.  The Climate Change and Green Initiatives Practice Group offers complete legal services in many areas of law that relate to climate change.

Analyzing Climate Change Impacts Under CEQA and NEPA

Perhaps the biggest climate change policy issue facing our clients is whether and how greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions should be addressed under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). We are recognized as leaders in analyzing GHG and climate change impacts under these two laws. And, we are carefully monitoring how enforcement of California Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32) will change GHG regulation in California. Our work in this area grew out of our representation of California’s harbors, ports, airports, and utility and energy companies—entities that are acutely affected by mandates to reduce emissions of GHGs and other pollutants. Our qualifications in this area include:

  • Advise on the disclosure and quantification of a project’s GHG emissions and their potential adverse environmental impacts
  • Develop and apply standards to determine if the project’s emissions will have a “significant” impact
  • Develop effective and enforceable mitigation measures and plans to reduce emissions
  • Advise on the use of exemptions and negative declarations for projects with potential global warming impacts

Reducing GHG Emissions Through Local Land Use Choices

Meyers Nave’s multidisciplinary structure allows our Climate Change practice to team with others in the firm to help clients create local climate change programs and reduce GHG emissions locally. We advise on the following:

  • Cities and counties on the creation of climate action plans
  • Local governments on the reduction of GHGs emitted by planned and existing transportation and building projects
  • Local governments on the reduction of GHG emissions under broad-based planning policies (e.g., smart growth and transit-oriented development)
  • Local governments on resource conservation
  • Large emitters, such as ports and utility companies, on emissions reduction

Addressing Special Needs of Utility Companies

Utility companies face unique and significant challenges in attempting to comply with AB 32. We know how to help utilities identify and choose one or more of the options available to them. We have negotiated and prepared agreements to exchange and/or purchase emission reduction credits, giving us insight into potential cap and trade programs for carbon emissions. We also have advised clients on the construction of renewable energy facilities (e.g., solar, hydroelectric and cogeneration facilities), including preparing contract documents and contracting under qualifications-based delivery methods rather than lowest-responsible-bidder methods.

Adopting Green Building Programs

We advise public and private clients on green building programs and sustainable construction. We have helped public agencies draft and implement both mandatory and incentive-based green building regulations. Our advice addresses policy issues, such as enforcement, as well as practical considerations that are essential for success.