This is the first in a series of posts to provide the latest on environmental and legal developments affecting oil and gas operations and development and other industries in Los Angeles and adjacent counties, as well as the southern San Joaquin Valley. In this post, we’ll provide an update on legislation proposed in 2019 that affects industry in southern California, implementation of significant legislation previously adopted, and initiatives in Los Angeles to limit oil and gas operations.

AB 617 Implementation

The stated goal of AB 617 (Garcia, 2017) is to protect communities with disproportionate levels of air emissions and provide stricter penalties for certain infractions by regulated entities. In line with AB 617, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is implementing the Community Air Protection Program and finalized its first annual selection of communities for participation in the Program in September 2018. Air districts are now identifying candidate communities to be considered for the second year of the Community Air Protection Program. CARB isn’t likely to vote on the selections until later in 2019.

In the first round of community selection, South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast Air District) chose (1) Wilmington/West Long Beach/Carson; (2) San Bernardino/Muscoy; and (3) Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles/West Commerce. On September 6, 2019, South Coast Air District’s Governing Board approved Community Emission Reduction Programs for these areas. Most of the plans set goals for action, and enhanced enforcement, rulemaking and incentive grants will follow. The plan for San Bernardino/Muscoy focuses on truck, rail bus traffic, warehouses (as an indirect source), concrete and asphalt batch plants, and rock and aggregate plants. The plan for Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles/West Commerce focuses on neighborhood and freeway truck and bus traffic, railyards, metal processing facilities, rendering facilities, auto body shops, and general industrial facilities, along with reducing exposure at schools, childcare facilities, community centers, libraries, and public housing projects.
Continue Reading Southern California Environmental Law Update

Our latest post provides updates on environmental and legal developments in Los Angeles and adjacent counties, as well as the Southern San Joaquin Valley.  We welcome your comments and contributions.

Legislation and Ordinances  

Implementation of AB 617, CARB’s Community Air Protection Program. AB 617 requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB) by October 1, 2018 to identify the highest priority communities affected by a high cumulative air emissions exposure burden (“impacted communities”); to establish the criteria for air monitoring and local emissions reduction programs; and to develop a statewide strategy for reducing emissions, to be updated every 5 years.  Additional timeline for required actions:Continue Reading SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL UPDATE – NEW AIR QUALITY AND OIL & GAS REGULATORY DEVELOPMENTS

The Second District Court of Appeal has issued a decision in Comunidad en Accion v. Los Angeles City Council (case no. B240554 (Sept. 20, 2013), finding that the petitioner’s failure to timely request a hearing under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) was excusable neglect.  The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s ruling dismissing the petitioner’s suit on this basis.[1]

Comunidad en Accion challenged the City of Los Angeles’ approval of new and expanded solid waste facilities at the Bradley Landfill in Sun Valley, where the real party in interest, Waste Management, proposed building a new solid waste transfer station and expanded recycling and green waste processing facilities. Comunidad failed to comply with Public Resources Code section 21167.4 by filing a request for a hearing within 90 days of filing the lawsuit, however, and Waste Management filed a motion to dismiss on this basis shortly after the 90-day deadline ran. 

The trial court granted the motion to dismiss Comunidad’s CEQA claims and denied its request for relief under Code of Civil Procedure section 473, which permits relief from dismissal due to mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.  Comunidad’s attorney averred that he had inadvertently omitted the 90-day hearing request from his personal calendaring system and that this mistake was compounded when he was out of state for two weeks prior to the deadline due to family illness.  The trial court distinguished case precedent that found a calendaring error warranted discretionary relief under section 473, concluding that calendar shortcomings in the age of electronic litigation calendars, was not excusable neglect. 

Upon review, the Court of Appeal reversed, finding that the trial court abused its discretion in denying Comunidad relief.

[1] In addition to the CEQA claims, Comunidad challenged the siting of the waste facilities under state antidiscrimination laws.  On this issue, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s summary judgment in favor of the City.Continue Reading Second District Court of Appeal finds Failure to Request a CEQA Hearing within 90 Days is Excusable Neglect