AB 455, as introduced, Bigelow. Groundwater sustainability plans: environmental impact reports.
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires a lead agency, as defined, to prepare, or cause to be prepared, and certify the completion of, an environmental impact report (EIR) on a project that it proposes to carry out or approve that may have a significant effect on the environment or to adopt a negative declaration if it finds that the project will not have that effect. CEQA establishes a procedure for the filing of an action or proceeding challenging a lead agency’s action on the grounds of noncompliance with CEQA.
Existing law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, requires all groundwater basins designated as high- or medium-priority basins by the Department of Water Resources that are designated as basins subject to critical conditions of overdraft to be managed under a groundwater sustainability plan or coordinated groundwater sustainability plans by January 31, 2020, and requires all other groundwater basins designated as high- or medium-priority basins to be managed under a groundwater sustainability plan or coordinated groundwater sustainability plans by January 31, 2022, except as specified. The act exempts the preparation and adoption of a groundwater sustainability plan or coordinated groundwater sustainability plan from the provisions of CEQA, but does not exempt a project that would implement actions taken pursuant to the plan.
This bill would require the Judicial Council, on or before July 1, 2016, to adopt a rule of court to establish procedures applicable to actions or proceedings brought to attack, review, set aside, void, or annul the certification of an EIR for projects covered by a groundwater sustainability plan that require the actions or proceedings be resolved within 270 days of certification of the record of proceeding. The bill would also prohibit the court from staying or enjoining the construction or operation of the project unless the court makes a certain finding.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: no.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
Section 21168.6.9 is added to the Public
2Resources Code, to read:
(a) For purposes of this section, “project” means
4a project that would implement actions taken pursuant to a plan
5adopted pursuant to the Sustainable Groundwater Management
6Act (Part 2.74 (commencing with Section 10720) of Division 6 of
7the Water Code).
8(b) On or before July 1, 2016, the Judicial Council shall adopt
9a rule of court to establish procedures applicable to actions or
10proceedings brought to attack, review, set aside, void, or annul the
11certification of an environmental impact report for a project that
12requires the actions or proceedings, including any potential appeals
13therefrom, be resolved within 270 days of certification of the record
granting relief in an action or proceeding brought pursuant
16to this section, the court shall not stay or enjoin the construction
17or operation of the project unless the court finds either of the
19(1) The continued construction or operation of the project
20presents an imminent threat to the public health and safety.
21(2) The project site contains unforeseen important Native
22American artifacts or unforeseen important historical,
23archaeological, or ecological values that would be materially,
P3 1permanently, and adversely affected by the continued construction
2or operation of the project.
3(d) If the court makes a finding described in subdivision (c),
4the court shall only enjoin those specific activities associated with
5the project that present an imminent threat to public health and
6safety or that materially, permanently, and adversely affect
7unforeseen important Native American artifacts or unforeseen
8important historical, archaeological, or ecological values.
Section 10728.6 of the Water Code is amended to read:
Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the
11Public Resources Code does not apply to the preparation and
12adoption of plans pursuant to this chapter. Nothing in this part
13shall be interpreted as exempting from Division 13 (commencing
14with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code a project that
15would implement actions taken pursuant to a plan adopted pursuant
16to this chapter.