County supervisors decline to appeal ruling on climate plan

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The Board of Supervisors decided against appealing a court ruling that found San Diego County’s Climate Action Plan to be insufficient, it was announced Wednesday.

On June 12, a three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal in San Diego also found that reliance on carbon offsets was not legal, and shouldn’t be used as a mechanism to allow general plan amendments to move forward.

Carbon offsets are reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases to compensate for emissions made elsewhere.

The board’s unanimous vote followed a Tuesday closed session on the lawsuit, according to Supervisor Nathan Fletcher’s office.

In a January 2019 closed session, supervisors voted to appeal the lawsuit that was filed in 2018 by several environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Climate Action Campaign and the Sierra Club.

In December 2018, San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy B. Taylor ruled the county’s climate plan and offset program lacked oversight and also violated the 2011 general plan update.

Fletcher, a member of the state Air Resources Board, said Wednesday that it was “past time that our county accept the court’s repeated guidance on the law and take seriously our obligation to meaningfully address environmental concerns.”

“We must rethink our approach to housing development by focusing our efforts on infill development near transit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower vehicle miles traveled, which will improve air quality and prevent the risks of building in fire zones,” he said.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob said the county has ” fought this issue for too long.”

“The court has made it loud and clear, and I have maintained that the county needs to stop wasting time and money arguing this matter and instead fix the plan,” she said.

Other supervisors contacted were unavailable for comment or declined to comment on the closed session matter.

John Buse, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, said his group was very happy with the board’s decision.

“It was throwing good money after bad to pursue something the county has fought for (years) now,” Buse said. “It’s a prudent decision from a government perspective. The goal is not to halt the Climate Action Plan but to get a better one.”

Environmental groups have taken issue with the county’s Climate Action Plan for nearly a decade. That opposition has resulted in the county spending nearly $1 million in legal fees.

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