Justia Environmental Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of California
People v. Rinehart
Defendant was charged by criminal complaint with unpermitted use of a suction dredge. Suction dredging is a technique used by miners to remove matter from the bottom of waterways, extract minerals, and return the residue to the water. Defendant demurred, arguing (1) state law aimed at environmental conservation effectively banned suction dredging in California, thereby preventing him from using the only commercially practicable method of extracting gold from his mining claim; and (2) because federal law promoted mining on federal land, the state’s contrary legislation should be preempted. The trial court overruled the demurrer. The Court of Appeal reversed and remanded for consideration of additional evidence and argument. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Congress did not guarantee miners a right to mine immunized from exercises of the states’ police powers. View "People v. Rinehart" on Justia Law
Cal. Building Ind. Ass’n v. Bay Area Air Quality Mgmt. Dist.
In 2010, the Bar Area Air Quality Management District passed a resolution adopting new thresholds of significance for air pollutants and published new California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) air quality guidelines. The California Building Industry Association (CBIA) filed a petition for writ of mandate challenging these thresholds. The superior court entered judgment in favor of CBIA, concluding that the District’s promulgation of the 2010 thresholds was a “project” subject to CEQA review, and the District was bound to evaluate the thresholds’ potential impact on the environment. The Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that the promulgation of the 2010 thresholds was not a project subject to CEQA review. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) CEQA does not generally require an agency to consider the effects of existing environmental conditions on a proposed project’s future users or residents except in specific instances; and (2) because the Court of Appeal’s analysis of CBIA’s petition for writ relief did not address potentially important arguments for and against such relief in light of CEQA’s requirements as interpreted in this opinion, this case is remanded so the court may have an opportunity to address those issues. View "Cal. Building Ind. Ass’n v. Bay Area Air Quality Mgmt. Dist." on Justia Law
Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Cal. Dep’t of Fish & Wildlife
At issue in this case was the adequacy of an environment impact report certified by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) for a land development in northwest Los Angeles County. Plaintiffs challenged DFW’s actions by a petition for writ of mandate, raising several claims under the California Environmental Quality Act. The superior court granted the petition. The Court of Appeal reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the environmental impact report did not validly determine that the development would not significantly impact the environment by its discharge of greenhouse gases; (2) the report’s mitigation measures adopted for protection of a freshwater fish, a fully protected species under the Fish and Game Code, constituted a prohibited taking of the fish under the Code; and (3) Plaintiffs exhausted their administrative remedies regarding certain claims of deficiency. Remanded. View "Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Cal. Dep’t of Fish & Wildlife" on Justia Law