BREAKING NEWS from the Planning and Conservation League www.pclfoundation.org
Coalition of Leading Conservation, Environmental Justice, and Labor Groups Launch CEQA Works to Protect the California Environmental Quality Act.
A coalition of groups today announced the launch of CEQA Works. The new coalition is an effort to shield California’s landmark environmental law from “reforms” that would limit public input into land use planning, threaten public health, and weaken environmental protections. Participating organizations are committed to educating the state’s residents and legislators about the significant benefits the California Environmental Quality Act has brought to the state since it was signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan 43 years ago.
CEQA Works already includes many of the state’s most prominent advocacy organizations, including conservation groups, labor organizations, environmental health and justice groups and public interest groups. It also includes dozens of smaller community-based groups from throughout the state. Visit our website to learn more about who we are.
While CEQA remains under attack in many corners of the state, a recent poll conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates (FM3) on behalf of CEQA Works showed that 64% of California voters oppose weakening CEQA. The CEQA Works coalition is committed to ensuring all Californians will continue to have a meaningful voice in the decisions that will impact the quality of their air, water and communities.
Excerpted from www.capradio.org
California state Senator Michael Rubio, a moderate Democrat, is leading the charge to overhaul CEQA. “That’s the argument we’re putting forward,” says Rubio.
“You can point to one or two examples here or there but the reality is [CEQA} ait’s not slowing up a tremendous amount of development,” says Bruce Reznik with the Planning and Conservation League.
He says study after study shows few projects end up in court because of CEQA. “The statistics are the statistics,” says Reznik. “.3 percent of projects face litigation the majority of those ultimately get built, but usually they get built with more environmental and community protections.”
Environmentalists like Reznik argue that CEQA needs to be strengthened, not reformed.
They say Rubio’s effort last legislative session to overhaul CEQA would have emasculated it. “[It] would have rendered CEQA to us the most important foundational environmental law and community protection law in the state of California, really a moot point, a meaningless law.”
The most contentious part of that bill would have blocked CEQA lawsuits if a project’s environmental review met a city’s general plan or state environmental standards.
“General plans are by their very definition general,” says Democratic Senator Noreen Evans, a long-time CEQA supporter. “CEQA is designed to get into the weeds of any development and identify any potential negative impacts so that the local government can then require those be mitigated. This approach that would be standards-based would throw that out.”
Rubio’s attempt at changing the law last session was unsuccessful. The governor has called for modernizing the law as well as Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.
Several bills that would change CEQA have already been introduced. But it will be a long battle before any legislation takes a final form.