| CEQA Reform rockets up priority list, stalls at the end
by Brian Leubitz
The California Environmental Quality Act is a subject of much scrutiny these days. It is a truly valuable piece of legislation, critical to the long-term health of our natural resources. However, there are some folks that want to tinker with it, both progressive and not-so-progressive.
This tinkering came to prominence a few days ago just as the legislative session was about to end. Through some gut and amend moves, the Senate had taken up the idea, and active negotiations were going on behind closed doors.
And that was precisely the thorny issue for many. While some environmentalists support some changing of the measure, most were concerned about the lack of process. There weren't the normal hearing and negotiation process that goes on with the Legislature. And just two days ago, Asm. Jared Huffman delivered a letter with 34 signatures from legislators asking for a more thorough process on this important reform:
"Like many important laws, CEQA is not perfect and could probably be improved while retaining its many benefits - but only if such improvements are undertaken in a good faith process and are crafted very carefully," said the letter, delivered today to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, both Democrats. "Unfortunately, the proposals we have seen and heard about reflect major changes that have not been vetted and are being advanced by special interests in an end-of-session power play."(SacBee)
And ultimately, that delay carried the day. Sen. Steinberg tweeted out the statement that CEQA reform was going to have to wait for another day. Rumors are floating that a few senators are calling for a special session on the topic, but for now that seems unlikely. However, we're sure to hear much of it both in legislative campaigns this cycle and in the next legislative session.