Articles Posted in CEQA

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On September 25, 2014, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 52 (“AB 52”), which modifies the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) to add new protections for Native American cultural resources and enhances the role of Native American tribes in the environmental review process. AB 52 is a significant amendment to CEQA that poses both challenges and opportunities for project applicants. A brief summary of the new law, which takes effect July 1, 2015, is provided below.

AB 52 Creates a New Category of Potentially-Significant Environmental Impacts

Under current CEQA law, lead agencies typically evaluate whether a project would impact historic or archaeological resources. Although impacts to Native Americans may be evaluated, AB 52 specifically mandates evaluation of whether a project will impact “tribal cultural resources” which include sites, features, places, cultural landscapes, sacred places, and objects with cultural value to tribes. If the potential for impacts to such resources exists, as with other environmental impacts, increasing levels of CEQA analysis, mitigation measures, and the consideration of alternatives is required. Input from a tribe as to what is culturally significant to that tribe will drive the analysis for a given project. These changes take effect on July 1, 2015.

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On November 14, 2008, federal court Judge A. Howard Matz of the United States District Court,

Central District of California, awarded JMBM’s client, CEMEX, the full amount of attorneys’ fees requested for its defense of a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lawsuit.

The attorneys’ fees were incurred in the last round of litigation involving actions brought against CEMEX with respect to a proposed sand and gravel quarry in Southern California. In this action, JMBM successfully defended the adequacy—under CEQA—of an environmental impact report prepared by the County of Los Angeles. JMBM sought and obtained on behalf of CEMEX, a substantial award of attorneys’ fees.