California Governor's CEQA Reform Efforts: Doomed from the Start?

As calls for reforming California's oft-abused environmental law increase, opponents are digging in their heels in anticipation of Governor Jerry Brown's effort to revise the law to ease approval processes, reports Evan Halper.

Completing a trade trip to China, in which the country's ability to complete large infrastructure projects such as high-speed rail were contrasted with the Governor's difficulties to do the same at home, Jerry Brown addressed the prognosis for CEQA reform.

"A pillar of his plan to let the 'bulldozers roll' on big projects in California has been an overhaul of the state's landmark environmental law, which can tangle development in litigation for years," writes Halper. "Yet before he even boarded his return flight, the governor said he was giving up on any substantial revision this year of the 40-year-old law, which he says stands in the way of progress."

"The appetite for such change 'is bigger outside the state Capitol than it is inside,' Brown said as he sipped tea in the southern port city of Shenzhen on his last full day of events abroad. 'This is not something you get done in a year. There are very powerful forces that are strong in the [Democratic] Party that will resist.'"

"The law 'has turned into something it was never intended to be,' said Matt Regan, vice president of the Bay Area Council, a business advocacy group promoting changes in the law. 'The bulk of CEQA lawsuits filed by labor are not for environmental purposes.'"

"But unions are not the only ones abusing this law," he continued. "Businesses do it. NIMBYs do it. It has become the default for people who want to stop anything."

Full Story: Jerry Brown starts push to revamp California's environmental law

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