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News Posted on March 22, 2010

Professor Frank Prevails in Supreme Court Environmental Case

The California Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Professor Rick Frank and the environmental justice activists he represented in a case involving the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and clean air standards at a ConocoPhillips refinery in Wilmington. 

Frank, a 1974 graduate of King Hall who is Executive Director of the Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment at UC Berkeley and a Visiting Lecturer at King Hall this semester, represented Communities for a Better Environment, labor organizations, and individuals who live or work near the refinery.  They claimed the South Coast Air Quality Management District had improperly granted a permit for a proposed expansion of the ConocoPhillips refinery that increased nitrogen oxide emissions by several hundred pounds a day.  On March 15, the state high court ruled unanimously that the district applied the wrong "environmental baseline" when calculating the effect of the emissions, and required that the District prepare a new environmental impact report under CEQA.

"In all likelihood, mitigation measures will be identified in that report, which can be adopted retroactively," said Professor Frank, in a Los Angeles Times article on the decision.

Los Angeles Times article