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No Oil v. Los Angeles, City of

Citation: 5 ELR 20166
No. No. L.A. 30268, 118 Cal. Rptr. 34/7 ERC 1257/13 Cal. 3d 68, (Cal., 12/10/1974)

The Supreme Court of California, sitting en banc, rules, in a 4-3 decision, that the City of Los Angeles failed to comply with the requirements of the state Environmental Quality Act when it established oil drilling districts for the drilling of two test wells near a state beach without first issuing a written determination as to whether an environmental impact report (EIR) must be prepared. A determination that a project does not require an EIR must take the form of a written negative declaration, and a resolution adopted by the city council three months after the project had been approved which stated that at the time of that approval the council believed that the drilling would have no significant environmental effect is nothing more than a post hoc rationalization and does not fulfill this requirement. The court also holds that the council followed an erroneous test in deciding that the drilling project did not require an EIR since the standard it used (whether the project may have an "important" or "momentous effect" of a "permanent or long-enduring nature" sets too high a threshold barrier to EIR preparation. An EIR should be prepared whenever there is some substantial evidence that a project may have a significant environmental effect. The court also points out that the existence of serious public controversy concerning a project's environmental impact in itself indicates that preparation of an EIR is desirable. The lower court is directed to set aside the city ordinances which established the drilling districts.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Brent Rushforth
Center for Law and the Public Interest
10203 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, Cal. 90067

Counsel for Defendants
Hanna & Morton
Suite 1126, Pacific Mutual Building
523 W. 6th Street
Los Angeles, Cal. 90014

Lawler, Felix & Hall
800 Standard Oil Building
605 W. Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, Cal. 90015