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Environment

Judge: County's Climate Action Plan Is Inadequate

A graphic from the county's Climate Action Plan
San Diego County
A graphic from the county's Climate Action Plan

Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor has confirmed his tentative ruling that San Diego County’s plan to address climate change is inadequate.

Judge: County's Climate Action Plan Is Inadequate
A judge has issued a tentative ruling that San Diego County’s plan to address climate change is inadequate. The Climate Action Plan was approved by supervisors last summer but the Sierra Club says it has no teeth.

San Diego County Supervisors issued their Climate Action Plan last June to “address the issues of growth and climate change and to safeguard the environment for residents and visitors.“

The plan was required to mitigate the effects of new development in the unincorporated areas in the county’s General Plan as the population grows. Its goal is to do that by “achieving meaningful greenhouse gas reductions,” according to plan documents.

But the Sierra Club sued, saying the plan has no teeth: it sets goals but hardly mentions deadlines and contains no enforcement measures.

The plan describes itself as a “living document” and a platform for the county to “build strategies to meet its emissions reduction targets.“

In its defense, the county counsel writes, “Experts in the field of climate change compiled, reviewed and refined the strategies" in the Climate Action Plan. “The record,” they write, “demonstrates the viability of those strategies.”

But in his ruling, Taylor noted that hundreds of thousands of San Diegans live in low-lying areas near the coast, susceptible to rising sea levels. There is no time, he writes, for “building strategies” or reaching goals though “education and incentives.”

Judge Taylor's Final Ruling
You can download the entire ruling here.
To view PDF files, download Acrobat Reader.

The judge notes this is the second case of its kind before the court in the last six months. He cites the case filed by the Cleveland National Forest Foundation against the regional transportation plan issued by San Diego's regional planning agency, SANDAG. That case is now on appeal.

San Diego County is now considering whether to appeal the ruling.