CEQA faces changes
August 23, 2012
A proposal to loosen the California Environmental Quality Act is expected to be introduced in Sacramento as soon as Thursday, giving the public and lawmakers only about a week to debate and consider the controversial legislation’s fate. [SFGate]
Backers of the proposal say that some individuals and groups misuse CEQA in order to stop or delay development for non-environmental reasons and that the act is in need of an update.
And while it typically takes at least several months – often longer – for a proposal to be vetted by committees and then go to a vote of the Legislature, nearing the end of a session controversial proposals sometimes are inserted into bills and pushed through.
People both for and against changes to CEQA expect language that would alter the environmental law to be inserted into SB317 by state Sen. Michael Rubio, D-Bakersfield. That bill pertains to fish management in the Kings River.
Under the proposal, projects that meet the requirements of an existing land-use plan – which has met CEQA mandates – would be exempt from going through CEQA’s review process. Backers say it will eliminate duplication while opponents say it means the public will not have a chance to weigh in on – and force changes to – large projects that will affect them or the environment.
CEQA, passed in 1970, mandates that a public agency must determine whether a proposed project would have a significant environmental impact. If so, the project becomes the subject of an environmental impact report, on which the public can comment. Those comments must then be addressed in the report that is required to include ways to mitigate impacts on the environment.