In the Pacificans for a Scenic Coast (PSC) challenge to Caltrans’ highway widening EIR, San Mateo Superior Court Judge Weiner has not issued a final decision. Recently, PSC notified Judge Weiner of a new California Supreme Court decision that is relevant to this case. The new California Supreme Court decision is Center For Biological Diversity v. California Department Of Fish And Wildlife (Newhall Land And Farming Company), 62 Cal.4th 204 (2015) (“Newhall”). Judge Weiner has ordered PSC and defendants to file supplemental 10-page briefs in January 2016 regarding this new decision and how it affects the issues in PSC's case.
PSC believes that the Newhall decision is relevant to PSC’s claim that Caltrans violated the law by certifying an EIR, which failed to consider, or determine the significance of, greenhouse gas emission impacts when the EIR impermissibly claimed any determination of the significance of greenhouse gas emission impacts were “too speculative.”
In addition, the California Supreme Court in Newhall recognized that “fully protected species” are subject to stricter prohibitions under the Fish and Game Code than provided under the Endangered Species Act, and that any “take” (i.e., killing or capturing) of fully protected species is against the law. The San Francisco garter snake is a fully protected species present on and around the Caltrans proposed widening project. PSC believes the Newhall decision is relevant to its argument that the EIR was legally inadequate because it did not disclose that the snake is a fully protected species for which any take is prohibited. The PSC notice and Judge Weiner's order are at the links below: