Jerry Brown once called reforming CEQA, California’s 43-year-old landmark environmental impact law, “doing the Lord’s work.” Well, if that’s the case, looks like we’re in the day-of-rest period…
Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday it’s unlikely that changes he’s seeking to the state’s environmental protection law can be accomplished this year, although a top Senate Democrat said he’s still pursuing reforms.
Brown told California reporters traveling with him in China that interest in changing the California Environmental Quality Act is stronger among groups outside the state Capitol than among Democratic lawmakers, who control the Legislature.
“This is not something you get done in a year, but I believe before I depart this stage we will see reform in CEQA,” he told reporters.
Brown said the law has support from key Democratic Party constituencies and making changes would be difficult for the Legislature, The Sacramento Bee reported. During their convention last weekend, California Democrats adopted a resolution affirming their support for the law.
The governor called for streamlining the law in his State of the State address.
Critics say the 4-decade-old law is being used by unions, activist groups and rival developers to delay or stop projects they don’t like, often at great legal expense to developers.
Opponents of revising the environmental act acknowledge criticism that the law has been misused. But they argued that the law’s benefits outweigh the number of times it has been used for frivolous lawsuits.
At an unrelated news conference in Sacramento, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said he is continuing to push forward on changing the environmental law.
“I’m not sure why the governor would say that,” said Steinberg, D-Sacramento.
Steinberg said he has introduced a bill, SB 731, “and it is going to be a full and comprehensive effort to update the California Environmental Quality Act. And it is going to find that elusive middle ground between those who think the statute is perfect and doesn’t need to be fixed, and those who think it needs to be dramatically revamped.”
Efforts in the state Senate to reform the law had been led by Sen. Michael Rubio, D-Bakersfield. Rubio, who was appointed chairman of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, resigned in February to take a job with Chevron.