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State Releases Scoping Plan Update to Meet New 2030 GHG Reduction Goal

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has released its draft 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan Update to meet the new State greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal under SB 32 of 40% below 1990 emission levels by 2030.  The Plan builds on the regulations under the existing Scoping Plan adopted to implement the State’s 2020 goal to reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels.  The 2030 goal is aggressive and requires a comprehensive and far-reaching regulatory regime to meet the target.  The Plan also discusses its relation to the 2050 GHG reduction target under the Governor’s Executive Order B-30-15, which is 80% below 1990 levels.  This will add fuel to the debate of whether a 2050 target needs to be addressed under CEQA and other planning documents, an issue currently pending before the California Supreme Court in Cleveland National Forest Foundation v. San Diego Association of Governments (California Supreme Court Case No. S223603).

The Plan will affect all companies, public agencies, and residents in California.  The main emission reduction programs focus on mobile sources, freight, and refineries.  The Mobile Source Strategy focuses on reducing vehicle trips and emissions.  Programs will target reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) through adoption of CEQA regulations and other measures.  The Sustainable Freight Strategy includes improving freight system efficiency by 25 percent and developing zero-emission, heavy-duty trucks.  Refineries are subject to a specific target of a 20% GHG reduction.  This will be accomplished through the development of specific regulations by both the State and local air districts.  The regulations also will advance the public health and environmental justice goals of the Plan to reduce adverse health effects on communities adjacent to refineries.

The Plan also will affect local and regional agencies, such as cities, counties, air districts and metropolitan planning organizations.  The Plan promotes local land use planning based on smart growth and infill development.  It also recommends the adoption of aggressive GHG reduction targets in local Climate Action Plans which will need to be developed to meet the new 2030 target.  The reduction targets under Sustainable Communities Strategies/Regional Transportation Plans will also have to be increased in upcoming plan updates.  Regional Air Districts will need to develop new regulations to address the GHG reduction and public health goals of the Plan.  The Bay Area Air District has already started this process as discussed in our recent Client Alert.

CARB has prepared a Draft Environmental Analysis (EA) for the Plan to meet its requirements under CEQA.  The Plan and EA will undergo a public review period with hearings scheduled over the next couple of months.  The public comment period on the Plan and EA ends March 6, 2017.  The Plan is anticipated to be adopted on April 27 or 28, 2017.  Meyers Nave will continue to monitor CARB’s actions on the Plan and keep you apprised of developments.