'Green' Governor Fast-Tracks Highway Construction

Environmentalists reject CA Gov. Schwarzenegger's attempt to waive new highway construction projects from environmental review to qualify for Obama's stimulus package, offering 'fix-it-first' construction and public transit projects as alternatives.

"Schwarzenegger is proposing to largely exempt the 10 highway projects from the California Environmental Quality Act, a 1970 law requiring review of big projects and efforts to offset any deleterious effects on the surroundings.

Schwarzenegger has infuriated the Sierra Club and other groups with such proposals and with a letter he sent to President-elect Barack Obama last week asking that federal environmental reviews be waived on the highway projects."

"The governor has a green streak, but it's in conflict with his desire to pour more concrete and build more highways," said Sierra Club California director Bill Magavern. "We don't buy the idea that to stimulate the economy, we need to weaken standards that protect the public health and environment."

"A better alternative (according to a report by California's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office) would be pressing ahead with 122 less contentious projects around the state involving rehabilitation of battered pavement, bridges and highway drainage.

Environmentalists have a list of scores of other "green" projects -- mostly improvements to public bus and rail transit systems -- that are ready to go but lack funding."

Thanks to Leonard Conly

Full Story: Schwarzenegger's effort to expedite highway projects angers environmentalists

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Irvin Dawid's picture
Correspondent

Caltrans chief responds-CEQA exemption for new roads necessary

in this Sacramento Bee Op-Ed: 10 highway projects deserve a fast track: "...Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has made economic stimulus a key feature of his 2009-10 budget plan, and why job creation is at the heart of his proposal to relax environmental and permitting requirements for a small number of highway projects that can be moved forward this year..."

To this observer, it would seem more pressing for the state to fix its cash-flow problem (IOUs will be issued come February) in order to keep current contractors working than worry about a yet-to-be determined stimulus package.

See "Cash-strapped California may halt road projects", San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 13:
"Many transportation projects are funded by bonds, which the state hasn't been able to sell in part because of the nation's credit crisis and also because of the inability of the Legislature and the governor to agree on how to balance the deficit-plagued state budget."

Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

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