In Ballona Wetlands Land Trust v. City of Los Angeles, the Second District of the California Court of Appeal upheld a revised Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a mixed-use development that was certified by the City of Los Angeles (City) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The revised EIR was issued after the petitioners successfully overturned limited portions of a previous EIR. In addition to revising and supplementing the land use, archeological resources and wastewater sections of the revised EIR, the City included a new global climate change section in light of changes in the California legislation regarding greenhouse gases and climate change.
In its new lawsuit, petitioners claimed, among other things, that the revised EIR was required to analyze the rise in sea level from the project’s potential climate change impacts but failed to do so. The Court rejected the claim. In doing so, the Court reiterated established precedent that an “EIR is to identify the significant effects of a project on the environment, not the significant effects of the environment on the project.” The decision highlights the difference between a “project’s exacerbation of environmental hazards [and] the effects on users of the project and structures in the project of preexisting environmental hazard” and holds that “to the extent that such questions may encompass the latter effects, the questions do not relate to environmental impacts under CEQA and cannot support an argument that the effects of the environment on the project must be analyzed in an EIR.” An analysis of the rise in sea level and its impacts to the eventual users of the project squarely fell into the latter and was not required.
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