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Protecting Our Waters and Environmental Resources v. Stanislaus, County of

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20212
Nos. S251709, (Cal., 08/27/2020)

The California Supreme Court held that a county's policy of approving permits for new water wells without environmental review violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Conservation groups argued that issuances of the permits were discretionary, not ministerial, projects and thus required CEQA review. The lower court had concluded that all permit issuances were ministerial, and the intermediate appellate court reversed, concluding that all issuances were discretionary. The high court held that whether the county's issuance was discretionary or ministerial depended on the circumstances, and thus that blanket classification of the issuances as ministerial was unlawful. It therefore affirmed the appellate court ruling as to the blanket ministerial categorization, but reversed and remanded as to the ruling that all permit issuances were discretionary.