While most of our coverage of the California Attorney General's office has focused on ongoing and forthcoming climate change litigation at the federal level, it's important to note that's not all currently brewing in the Golden State. The transcript of a late September panel hosted by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, obtained by the San Jose Mercury News, reveals that the office continues to quietly work on integrating climate-change concerns into the planning process for major development efforts:
[Stephen E.] Wright: A quick follow-up: The state is getting ready to embark on a major infrastructure process, with all the bonds voters have approved for roadways, waterways, parks, etc. What role will the attorney general's office play in making sure that some of these new bond-funded infrastructure improvements are meeting the CEQA requirements, etc.?
Brown: Under CEQA, impacts have to be identified in connection with any major project, and then mitigation measures must be adopted if they're feasible. I am meeting with counsel of governments, counties, cities, transportation agencies, urging them to do whatever they can.
Brown: We're going to be very tempered in the use of the coercive power of the state, but very active in the persuasive power. So I'm actually meeting with different jurisdictions, where there's no threat of lawsuits, but bringing to their attention what they should do. Now even what they can do is limited, because, as I say, these are the product of plans, some of these going back 25 years. So this is embedded in legal frameworks that will only be changed slightly.
One of the concerns regarding Brown's recent sprawl lawsuits was the idea that while acting in good faith, he was inserting himself into processes long underway. Now, however, he is engaging in the planning process at the outset. This, too, could set the tone for other states and localities embarking on their own infrastructure plans.