Watershead, Fall 2009
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Newhall Ranch Cannot Duck Climate Change Analysis

In order to do its part to minimize the risk of catastrophic impacts from climate change, California has set the target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Newhall Ranch, a proposed new city of over 70,000 people plunked down in open space and wildlife habitats along five miles of the Santa Clara River, is exactly the type of sprawl development that must be curtailed if California is to successfully make the transition to a low-carbon future.

Recent comments submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity on the Newhall Ranch Resource Management and Development Plan Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report highlight the project's effort to downplay its serious greenhouse gas impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Center pointed out that, in determining that the Project's greenhouse gas impacts are not significant under CEQA rules, the DEIR wrongly uses the criteria: "Will the proposed Project's GHG emissions impede compliance with the GHG emission reductions mandated by AB 32?" Compliance with AB 32, which sets California's short-term emission reduction target of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, is not the appropriate standard for determining the significance of Newhall Ranch emissions. Instead, the emission reduction targets set forth in AB 32 mark only a first and interim step toward avoiding dangerous climate change. By myopically focusing on AB 32, the Project ignores the long term emission reductions necessary to stabilize the climate. These reductions are significant and must be covered in any CEQA analysis of Newhall Ranch, including the EIS/EIR now under consideration by the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG).

Friends of the Santa Clara River strongly support the Center's arguments, including their request that the Newhall Resource Management Plan Draft EIS/EIR be revised by the Corps and CDFG to reflect actual scientific data on needed emissions reductions and then recirculated for further public comment.


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