Legislative Updates

2015 Legislative Session Has Ended: Very Few CEQA-Related Amendments

September 11, 2015 was the final day for bills to be passed this legislative session, and at the end of the session very few CEQA-related bills have made it through. The three CEQA bills to have passed include:

  • AB 115/SB 88, the Omnibus Resource Trailer Bill, which adds a new Public Resources Code section 21080.08 providing a new statutory exemption for projects that both mitigate drought conditions and construct or expand recycled water pipelines.
  • AB 323, which amends Public Resources Code section 21080.37 extending through January 1, 2020 the existing statutory exemption for projects that repair, maintain, or make minor alterations to an existing roadway.
  • SB 348, which amends Public Resources Code sections 21080.13 and 21080.14 and imposes additional duties on lead agencies using the existing statutory exemption for railroad crossing projects.
  • AB 157, which provides specific CEQA streamlining procedures for a project opening a third lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in the San Francisco Bay Area

Although not CEQA-specific legislation, SB 350, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015, has also been signed into law. SB 350 increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030, and establishes a target to double energy efficiency savings in electricity and natural gas end uses by 2030.

Notably, SB 32, which would have codified the greenhouse gas emissions thresholds of two past executive orders (40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050) did not pass. SB 32 was of high interest to CEQA practitioners because it could have changed how greenhouse gas emissions impacts are identified in CEQA documents.

AEP Comments on OPR’s August 11, 2015 Proposed Updates to the CEQA Guidelines

The AEP Legislation Committee, which consists of representatives from each local chapter, has reviewed the Office of Planning and Research’s Proposed Updates to the CEQA Guidelines: Preliminary Discussion Draft dated August 11, 2015. Over the course of several weeks, the Legislation Committee drew on its membership’s broad and diverse range of CEQA experience to prepare comments on the technical, legal, and policy implications of the proposed changes. On October 12, 2015, the Legislation Committee submitted its detailed comment letter to OPR for consideration.