Environmental reform stalled
April 8, 2013
Sacramento politicians have dabbled with reform of California’s far-reaching environmental law during the past few sessions, but now advocates of change fear their chances of success have significantly diminished. (San Jose Mercury News)
The 43-year-old law — the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) has been used maliciously, some business leaders maintain, to unfairly compete with other businesses, to mount neighborhood battles over aesthetics, and to coerce developers into labor consensus.
Gov. Jerry Brown disdained the law’s limitations while mayor of Oakland, and said he intended to “fix” those problems when he became governor.
But when Democrat Michael Rubio left the Legislature recently to join Chevron as a lobbyist, the move toward what reform advocates were calling the “modernization” of CEQA stalled. Rubio’s replacement, Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, is less inclined to make changes in the law.
“Forces have already organized to block (reform),” Brown recently told reporters.
The law was signed in 1970 by Gov. Ronald Reagan and requires environmental studies of significant development projects.