"The court felt that this decision has precedential value," she said.

There are 58 counties in California. Each is the land-use authority for all the unincorporated land within its boundaries. Some do not share the development pressure the UC Merced campus brought to Merced County. Others are richer and more clever than Merced County. If the California Environmental Quality Act is conceived as a well marked public path through a pasture, Merced local government can be seen to frequently stray from that path and step in something. Its tracks have "precedential value."

Merced Sun-Star
Court blocks mine expansion...Corinne Reilly

A California appeals court has blocked the expansion of a Le Grand mining company, reversing a Merced judge's decision that environmental reviews of the expansion were adequate...judgment is a victory for neighbors and environmentalists who filed suit against the Jaxon Enterprises mine and Merced County, arguing that the county violated the California Environmental Quality Act when it approved the expansion. The ruling says the county failed to fully evaluate how the mine's expansion will affect the environment...decision, handed down earlier this month by the 5th District Court of Appeals, reverses a 2006 ruling by Merced County Superior Court Judge Ronald Hansen. In 2004 the county Board of Supervisors voted to approve environmental studies on the mine's proposal and OK the expansion. Under the latest ruling, that approval is thrown out...Jaxon Enterprises must redo the environmental reviews and reapply for a county permit. Raptor Rescue Center attorney Marsha Burch said the main problem with the original study was that it failed to recognize that the mine wasn't just expanding its acreage, but also its output. "It was never made clear to the public or to the decision makers that the mine would actually be increasing their production," said Burch. "They were using incorrect information to conduct their entire analysis." Burch said the ruling carries extra weight because the appellate court decided to publish their judgment. That means future cases related to the California Environmental Quality Act can cite the ruling as case law. "The court felt that this decision has precedential value," she said. This is the third case brought by the Raptor Rescue Center against Merced County that has produced published case law. The other petitioners in the recent case were Protect Our Water and the Le Grand Community Association.