Date of Graduation

Spring 5-16-2014

Document Type

Project

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)

Department/Program

Environmental Science

First Advisor

Maggie Winslow

Abstract

The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) intends to reduce the effects of climate change through several mechanisms, including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction. AB 32 established a statewide GHG emissions goal, which requires California to decrease its GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is an environmental assessment law adopted in 1970 that requires lead agencies (private developers, public agencies, etc.) to consider and disclose the potential significant environmental impacts of new development projects the lead agency is planning. CEQA has attracted much controversy since adoption and continues to be the topic of much debate, especially regarding potential reform. The passage of Senate Bill (SB) 97 in 2007 tasked the Office and Planning and Research (OPR) to develop new guidelines to help analyze GHG emissions in the CEQA environmental review process. This was the first time CEQA review was required to include climate change related analysis. Significant potential exists to integrate CEQA and AB 32 to achieve even greater emission reductions.

Potential for CEQA reform includes incorporating the carbon-offset program established under AB 32 as part of the California cap-and-trade program into CEQA projects, expanding CEQA streamlining to include projects that employ green building, energy efficiency, and VMT reducing projects, and improving the energy conservation analysis, as well as the GHG and transportation assessments under CEQA.