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State Supreme Court Considering The Limits Of Calif. Environment Law

Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP
 

Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP

The California Supreme Court is taking a harder look at the state’s sweeping environmental protection law, the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.

The law requires the state and local government to consider the environmental impacts of new building projects. The state’s high court has taken up at least nine cases about CEQA in the past two years.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye says the broad law makes it hard to figure out when it should be applied. “We are seeing more cases involving CEQA, we are seeing more cases push the envelope of the understanding of CEQA, and at the same time, the legislature has taken an interest in CEQA."

Lawmakers have also expanded the law, so agencies must consider the greenhouse gas emissions new development projects will create.

“CEQA itself is in flux,” says Cantil-Sakauye. “New factors are being covered by it that certainly seem within the realm of CEQA except that they’re novel because they have never been used before or implemented before.”

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