State Legislators Proposing to Gut CEQA

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California Governor Jerry Brown had warned the Construction Industry three years ago, that he had every intention to gut the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), if the fighting continued amongst the major construction players within the Renewable Sector. It was alleged that these very same major players would hold Construction Projects hostage to gain advantages for Environmental, and Employment related purposes.

Once those concerns were addressed, complaints, and lawsuits would be lifted, the project would gain majority support, and the project would move forward. If an agreement could not be reached, more than likely the funding of the project would be pulled by private investors, and other sources, henceforth killing the project. This alleged tactic quickly spread to include all other projects that became targets. As far as the Renewable Industry was concerned, a five-craft project labor agreement was created to put an end to what is known as Jurisdiction Warfare. This appeased the Governor.

Now we are faced once again with serious proposals to gut CEQA. This time a handful of Sacramento Lawmakers are sharply proposing to limit the rights of California Citizens and Local Government Agencies to enforce critical environmental protections. California Citizens, members of organizations, residents from the surrounding area of proposed renewable construction sites, and advocates will no longer be able to go to court and challenge a construction project’s environmental impact report — a document critical to final approval.

If adopted, it is further proposed that only the State Attorney General can file environmental lawsuits. Also, that California Citizens will be allowed to pay a deposit to the court in the amount of 1% of the construction project’s costs, not to exceed $50,000.00 dollars, so that these citizens can exercise limited rights to file any litigation.

It is rumored that telecommunication companies seeking to expand their broadband networks would receive exemptions from any environmental rules for related construction, increasing access to broadband, boosting more jobs for the residents of California. Sierra Club California is opposed to the changes that these legislators have proposed.

CEQA IN A NUTSHELL: CEQA was voted into law over 40 years ago, to give all citizens a voice in what happens to their communities. For decades, CEQA has brought to light key information thus leading to major decisions over how to use local land at the local level — where impacts are the greatest.

If Sacramento and state agencies are proposing to change our environmental laws, there is a process available to the citizens of California. EPCF has joined many others in sending letters to our legislators that are spearheading these proposed changes. Urging that we do this in a much better transparent way. If we are so serious about changing our California’s environmental laws. Then let’s engage in a democratic process, and debate publicly these proposed changes. EPCF will keep you updated on how these proposals continue to play out, and its effects on CEQA, the workforce, and the California State Budget.


Edward Padilla


EPCF / Climate Change

Disclaimer: Articles appearing in this column, and webpage are to be used for informational purposes only. This article is not intended to be legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from a licensed attorney.

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