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CEQA Reform Pits Democrats Against Environmentalists in California

Ian Lovett looks at efforts to reform CEQA, California's landmark environmental law. Decried as easily abused, and an impediment to economic development, bipartisan attempts to reform the law are making enemies out of allies.
September 5, 2012, 2pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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In the 40-plus years since the California Environmental Quality Act was passed in 1970, what was "once a source of pride to many Californians and environmentalists across the country, has turned into an agonizing test in the struggle to balance environmental concerns against the need for jobs and economic growth," observes Lovett. 

Used as a tool to thwart development (occasionally on dubious grounds), and even to stop plans by the City of San Francisco to paint bicycle lanes, Democrats are joining Republicans in recognizing flaws with the law that allow abuse. 

"Lawmakers have managed only relatively minor changes to the law so far," notes Lovett. "Last year, Mr. Brown signed legislation to fast track a proposed football stadium in downtown Los Angeles. Another bill, which would exempt striping bicycle lanes from the Environmental Quality Act, now awaits his signature." 

Last month a bill introduced in the State Senate by Democrat Michael J. Rubio that would have overhauled CEQA enforcement was killed within 24 hours.

According to Lovett, the power of the environmental lobby and the importance of environmental issues to California's voters, means that "any major changes to the law remain a tall order in Sacramento."


Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 in The New York Times
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