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Sonoma County Superior Court Rules in Favor of River Watch!

Napa County Climate Action Plan

The article below tells the story of the victory of a group called River Watch, who sued Sonoma County and won. The judge determined that Sonoma County’s CAP violates CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) in that the inventory of greenhouse gas emissions is based on insufficient information. This mirrors the Napa County Climate Action Plan, which, as currently written, has the same issues. Our Planning Commissioners will be discussing the CAP again on September 20. Come and tell express your opinion about the importance this document which sets our climate policies for the future.

Watch for more updates on how you can ask your legislators on issues relating to our CAP, which NCN! would like to be a “living document” —reviewed annually and updated to reflect the most current mitigation and solutions.

CEQA Requires Assessment of GHG Impacts from Tourism

Judge Rules Climate Action 2020 Plan Violates CEQA

Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Nancy Case Shaffer in Santa Rosa has ruled in favor of local Sonoma Valley attorney Jerry Bernhaut’s lawsuit challenging Sonoma County’s Climate Action 2020 Plan. A lawyer with River Watch, a Sonoma County firm active in filing environmental challenges, Bernhaut’s suit argued that the county’s plan violated various provisions of CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act.

Quoting from the 41-page ruling:

“The court finds that the Sonoma County Regional Climate protection Authority’s Final programmatic EIR (“the PEIR”) for Climate Action 2020 and Beyond, its Climate Action Plan (“CAP”) and the County of Sonoma”s approval of the CAP violate CEQA, in that the inventory of greenhouse gas emissions is based on insufficient information, the PEIR fails to include effectively enforceable, clearly defined performance standards for the mitigation measures regarding Green House gas (“GHG”) emissions, identified as “GHG reduction Measures”, and fails to develop and fully analyze a reasonable range of alternatives.”

Commenting on the ruling, Bernhaut said, “The court’s ruling validates River Watch’s contentions that:

1. By failing to account for GHG emissions from global tourist travel and global distribution of wine and other Sonoma County products, the CAP grossly understated the true GHG emissions generated by activities in Sonoma County.

2. By failing to identify clear and enforceable reduction measures, the CAP failed to provide reasonable assurance that it’s program would result in the projected reduction of the County’s GHG emissions to 25% below 1990 levels, as predicted in the CAP, or even to 1990 levels by 2020, consistent with AB32.

3. By refusing to evaluate an alternative involving a moratorium or any form of control of growth in tourist destinations and/or wine production, the CAP failed to consider environmentally superior alternatives which are necessary for any realistic hope of reducing Sonoma County’s contribution to global GHG emissions to levels required to avoid reaching tipping points for irreversible catastrophic global warming.”

Bernhaut added, “It’s time to admit that perpetual growth on a planet with limited resources and carrying capacity is not sustainable.”

Read More in The Sonoma Valley Sun >>

Read more in the Press Democrat >>

Read a statement from the Sierra Club Sonoma Group >>

Read Judge Shaffer’s 41-page Ruling >>

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