Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Communities for a Better Environment v. South Coast AQMD (Cal. Ct. App. - April 7, 2020)

I understand and appreciate that you don't want to read a 44-page CEQA opinion.  Those things are almost invariably dense, complicated, and fact-intensive.  When I have to slog through them, I often find it incredibly difficult to follow the arguments and the facts.

But read the first eight pages of this opinion anyway.

It's really a wonderfully refreshing manner of writing.  Clear, comprehensible, and easy to follow.  I know that for those who already understand the details of how crude oil is refined (e.g., the parties) it may be a boring and overly simplistic summary.  But I nonetheless found it fascinating.  Even if those "in the know" might characterize the thing as written for a 12-year old.  That's fine.  I'm a 12-year old on this topic.  And, after reading the thing, I now know much more about the basics of refineries than I did two hours ago.  As well as am able to more fully understand the remainder of the opinion, which discusses in excruciating detail the various contentions of the parties about whether it's okay to use a 98 percentile near peak figure as a baseline for the H-100 heater at the refinery in Wilmington and Carson (here in Southern California).  So mission accomplished.

It's another extremely well-written opinion by Justice Wiley.  Which is characteristic of his work.  (I'm not expressing an opinion on the merits; Justice Stratton dissents, and both have good points on the substance.)  It's written a tiny bit differently than some of his opinions.  But it's still very well done.  And perhaps it's an even bigger compliment to say that someone is able to write a memorable and outstanding opinion via a variety of different styles.

Anyway, if you want to learn more about oil refineries, today's your day.