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Wildlife Alive v. Chickering

Citation: 6 ELR 20748
No. No. S.F. 23417, 553 P.2d 537/132 Cal. Rptr. 377, (Cal., 08/11/1976)

Reversing a lower court, the California Supreme Court holds that the state Fish and Game Commission is not exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act of 1970 (CEQA), and in particular its environmental impact report (EIR) responsibilities. The suit had its origins in the failure of the Commission to prepare an EIS in setting the black bear hunting season. Finding no implied exemption from CEQA for the Commission, the court sees no practical difficulty in the Commission's complying with CEQA's procedures and requirements. The court emphasizes that a recent amendment to CEQA permitting abbreviated analysis procedures for agencies having important environmental protection responsibilities marks a divergence from the past practice of parallel application of NEPA case law to CEQA problems. The court rejects the further argument that CEQA was an unconstitutional delegation of the Commission's responsibilities to other agencies, since CEQA imposes duties on state agencies but does not delegate powers. Finally, the court dismisses the argument that fishing and hunting season-setting represents a categorical exemption from CEQA because there is no significant environmental impact and rejects a similar argument that projects with no adverse effect should be exempted from CEQA. Petition for rehearing is pending.

For the appellate briefs see ELR 65384.

Counsel for Plaintiffs-Appellants
Bruce Tichinin
Robert B. Mitchell
Tichinin & Mitchell
17575 Monterey St.
Morgan Hill CA 95037
(408) 779-9194

Counsel for Defendants-Respondents
Raymond H. Williamson
Dennis Smaage Deputy Attorneys General
555 Capitol Mall
Sacramento CA 95814
(916) 445-9555

Counsel for Amicus Curiae Waterfowl Habitat Owners Alliance, California Waterfowl Association, Northern California Council of Fly Fishing Clubs, California Council of Trout Unlimited and California Wildlife Federation
Thomas M. Hamilton
Steven S. Wall
William M. McKenzie
Richard M. Freeman
Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps
The Bank of California Plaza
110 West A St.
San Diego CA 92101
(714) 236-1414

Counsel for Amicus Curiae Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., Sierra Club and California Trout, Inc.
Ballard Jamieson, Jr.
John D. Leshy
Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
2345 Yale St.
Palo Alto CA 94306
(415) 327-1080

Counsel for Amicus Curiae International Association of Game, Fish and Conservation Commissioners
Paul A. Lenzini
1700 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington DC 20006
(202) 223-9100

James F. Gilwee
Crow, Lytle, Schleh & Gilwee
4th Floor, Hong Kong Bank Bldg.
431 J St.
Sacramento CA 95814
(916) 441-2980

Counsel for Amicus Curiae Pacific Legal Foundation
Ronald A. Zumbrun
Raymond M. Momboisse
Elleene A. Kirkland
455 Capitol Mall
Sacramento CA 95814
(916) 444-0154

Richardson, J. for the court.