District Environmental Review Guidelines Addressing Greenhouse Gas Emissions under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

The District has updated its Environmental Review Guidelines to include guidance for evaluating the significance of the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions from new or modified stationary sources. Stationary source projects include land uses with processes and equipment that require a District permit to operate, such as oil and gas facilities, landfills, and facilities with large combustion devices.

The District Board of Directors at its Special Meeting on April 30, 2015 took action to adopt the “AB 32 Consistency” GHG threshold of significance for CEQA and revisions to the Environmental Review Guidelines. See the Board Actions and supporting materials below.

Background

The District’s Environmental Review Guidelines provide procedures for the District and other agencies to use when reviewing projects under CEQA. The District’s Guidelines are applied directly to projects for which the District is the lead agency under CEQA, including District permits, rules, and plans. The District’s Guidelines document, first adopted by the Board in 1995, was last revised in 2000. Starting in 2010, the state’s CEQA guidelines have included a framework for addressing climate change impacts under CEQA. This project will consider the latest information on greenhouse gases and CEQA.  For more information on the District’s Land Use and CEQA review activities see Land Use and CEQA.

Purpose

The California Office of Planning & Research (OPR) developed amendments to the CEQA Guidelines, which were adopted by the California Natural Resources Agency on December 30, 2009 and became effective on March 18, 2010. These amendments establish a framework for including global climate change impacts in the CEQA process, and include revisions to the Environmental Checklist Form (Appendix G) as well as to the Energy Conservation appendix (Appendix F).  A section (§15064.4) was added that provides an approach to assessing impacts from greenhouse gases.

A lead agency is required to determine the significance of impacts from greenhouse gases but is given discretion to:

  • Use a model or methodology to quantify greenhouse gases and decide which model or methodology to use,
  • Rely on a qualitative analysis or performance-based standards.

When assessing the significance of greenhouse gas impacts, a lead agency can consider:

  • Whether project emissions exceed a threshold of significance that lead agency has applied to the project,
  • If the project complies with regulations or requirements adopted to implement a statewide, regional, or local plan for the reduction or mitigation of greenhouse gases.

Public Workshops, Outreach, and Process Overview

A special meeting of of the District Board of Directors was held on April 30, 2015 to consider adoption of a GHG threshold for CEQA and revisions to the Environmental Review Guidelines. The Board took action to adopt the “AB 32 Consistency” threshold and revisions to District Environmental Review Guidelines. See supporting material for the April 30, 2015 meeting and related actions:


A special meeting of of the District Board of Directors was held on April 16, 2015 to discuss GHG emissions for CEQA. View:


The District held a public workshop and District Community Advisory Council (CAC) meeting on March 25, 2015. The District presented two threshold options for setting project significance. Following the public workshop, the CAC considered the options presented. A majority of the members voted to recommend the AB 32 Consistency threshold option for adoption by the District Board of Directors. View:

Notices about the March 25 workshop were placed in local media sources in the county and emailed to subscribers on our CEQA@sbcapcd.org email list.


The District held a public workshop on December 3, 2014 to provide a summary of the input received and present the options that the District is considering. View:

During this workshop, the District asked participants to submit input in writing by January 9, 2015; this date was extended to January 16, 2015.

Notices about the December 3 workshop were placed in local media sources in the county and emailed to subscribers on our CEQA@sbcapcd.org email list.


The District also held initial public workshops in Santa Maria on May 6, 2014 and in Santa Barbara on May 8, 2014 (view the public notice, view workshop presentation) to provide the framework and gather input from stakeholders and the public. Workshop notes available from the following links: notes May 6notes May 8. During these workshops, the District asked participants to submit input in writing by June 5, 2014; that date was extended to August 15, 2014.

Notices about the May 6 and 8 workshops were placed in local media sources in the county, and were also mailed directly to stakeholder groups.

Stakeholder Meetings

The District provided the opportunity for stakeholder groups to meet individually, if requested. The deadline to request a stakeholder meeting expired on June 27, 2014. The following stakeholder meetings occurred:

  • 350 Santa Barbara – June 17, 2014 1:00 pm
  • WSPA – August 7, 2014 1:30 pm

Written Input

The following written input was received by the District as of April 30, 2015: 

The following written input was received by the District as of January 16, 2015:

The following written input was received by the District as of August 15, 2014:

Resources and Useful Links:

District Environmental Review Guidelines
State of California CEQA Guidelines
AB 32 Scoping Plan (2008) and First Update to the Scoping Plan (2014)
ARB Cap-and-Trade Program
CAPCOA CEQA and Climate Change (2008)

For additional information, and to sign up to receive notices, please e-mail CEQA@sbcapcd.org or contact Molly Pearson at (805) 961-8838.

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