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SANDAG Settles Climate Change Study Lawsuit

The SANDAG logo is seen surrounded by the logos of other transportation plann...

Above: The SANDAG logo is seen surrounded by the logos of other transportation planning organizations in California.

A legal battle against the San Diego Association of Government's long-term transportation plan ended Friday when the agency and the environmental group plaintiffs settled out of court.

The settlement comes after the California Supreme Court issued a decision in favor of SANDAG last July, ruling that it followed the proper state law while conducting a 2011 study concerning climate change and the region's long-term transportation plan.

The Supreme Court's ruling overturned only the greenhouse gas study issue, leaving undisturbed the decision by an appellate court that ruled against SANDAG on other issues.

The state's high court remanded the remaining issues raised in the lawsuit to a lower court. Friday's settlement marks the closure of those issues.

SANDAG will pay $1.7 million in attorney's fees to the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups. The settlement also resulted in the decertification of SANDAG's 2050 Regional Transportation Plan, according to the agency.

"This will have no practical impact because the document has since been replaced by the latest version of the (Environmental Impact Report) and (Regional Transportation Plan) adopted by the board in 2015," the agency said in a statement.

Federal law requires that transportation plans like SANDAG's be updated every four years.

No environmental groups have filed legal challenges against the new plan, San Diego Forward, or its environmental impact report.

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