Court Rejects CEQA Challenge to GHG and Water Analysis in Addendum to 1994 EIR
Questions often arise as to whether an agency can rely on an "old" certified environmental impact report to approve a revision to a project that was never built. In Citizens for Responsible Equitable Environmental Development (CREED) v. City of San Diego, the Court upheld the use of a 2008 Addendum to a 1994 environmental impact report (EIR) to approve a revised project. The Court rejected arguments that the Addendum was insufficient because it failed to analyze greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts which were not addressed in the 1994 EIR. A GHG analysis was not required because it was not new information that could not have been known in 1994 when the EIR was certified. The Court found that GHG impacts were known as early as the 1970s. The Court also found that the City properly incorporated and approved a new water supply assessment in the Addendum. The opinion also provides good guidance on the requirement to present issues with specificity before the agency as a prerequisite for raising the issues in court (the exhaustion of administrative remedies doctrine). Click here for a more detailed analysis of the case.
Overall, the case provides strong support for reliance on already certified EIRs in future project approvals despite the passage of time. It emphasizes that once an EIR is certified, challengers have a high burden to show that further CEQA environmental review is required. In particular, an addendum to an "old" EIR without a GHG analysis can be upheld based on a finding that GHGs is not new information requiring further environmental review under CEQA.