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Court tosses San Diego County climate plan, calls carbon-offset program ‘unlawful’

06/17/20

Read the full article by Joshua Emerson Smith in the San Diego Union-Tribune here.

A state court has struck down a San Diego County plan to allow housing developers to buy their way around restrictions on greenhouse-gas emissions from new vehicle traffic using so-called carbon offsets.

The 4th District Court of Appeal in San Diego issued its ruling on Friday in response to a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Climate Action Campaign and other environmental groups.

Specifically, the three-judge panel’s decision tossed out the county’s latest adopted Climate Action Plan — the sixth such ruling in nearly a decade.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra celebrated the ruling on Twitter, saying “Victories like this will help California get back on track to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals ...”

“This is huge,” said Pete Andersen, who serves on the local chapter of the Sierra Club’s conservation and legal committees. “Let’s stop these projects that are causing sprawl and vehicle-miles traveled.”

The Board of Supervisors will now have to vote to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court or go back to the drawing board.

“Our county has ignored the undeniable facts about climate change for too long. Let’s redirect our energy towards creating a Climate Action Plan that implements real change,” said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.