BILL TO GUT CEQA, CALIFORNIA’S TOP ENVIRONMENTAL LAW, ON HOLD

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Governor , who wants to “crush” opponents of big energy projects, called CEQA reform  “Lord’s work”

“Governor Brown is dangerous to the financial and environmental health of California, and I am extremely disappointed in his short-sightedness.”--Laura Cyphert, Cedar Fire Survivor and cofounder of the East County Community Action Coalition

By Miriam Raftery

August 23, 2012 (Sacramento)—In a stealth effort that shocked enviornmentalists, business groups succeeded in gutting a bill in the State Assembly and inserted language to essentially repeal the California Enviornmental Quality Act (CEQA) .  The measure passed the Assembly yesterday and advanced to the State Senate. But today, State Senate President Darrell Steinberg and the bill’s author, Michael Rubio, held a press conference to announce that the measure will not be taken up before the end of the legislative session next week.  

Sierra Club California director Kathryn Phillips voiced relief, calling SB 317 “one of the worst attacks on environmental protections that we’ve seen in the 40-year life of the law.”

She added, “I think the last two weeks of attention to this latest attack has helped illuminate how dear Californians hold their right to clean air, clean water and having a say in how their communities are developed.”

CEQA was originally signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan.  While critics have long contended that CEQA is sometimes abused to block worthwhile projects, the measure sought to go much farther than reforms or limiting litigation. If enacted, it would eliminate serious state environmental review for major projects such as nuclear plants and wind farms as well as community plan updates, transit projects and nonconforming development projects.   If any other laws (local, state or federal) apply to a project, CEQA would essentially be cast aside. 

The bill attracted strong opposition from environmental groups, labor, and California residents stateside. It is likely to be revived in the next legislative session.

The radical reforms of CEQA were supported by Governor Jerry Brown, however, who stated that “CEQA reform is the Lord’s work,” the Sacramento Bee reported. 

Brown, once a Jesuit monk, has been zealous in his efforts to push through industrial-scale renewable energy projects such as large wind and desert solar developments.  In a speech recently in Alpine, standing atop a mountaintop blasted away to build a power substation, Brown said opponents of big energy projects such be “crushed” –outraging East County residents protesting outside and drawing criticism across the nation.

Senate Republican leader Bob Huff claimed CEQA has been a “blunt instrument to kill projects” and called today’s announcement a “missed opportunity.”

“It is extremely short-sighted and fiscally and morally irresponsible to fast track potentially detrimental and costly projects without performing appropriate due diligence.  We need CEQA,” Laura Cyphert, co-founder of the East County Community Action Coalition and an elected member of the Lakeside Planning Group, told ECM. 

She added, “Yes, CEQA compliance costs money, however, I think some people fail to understand that the cost of an environmental study is a tiny fraction of the cost of bad choices.  How many more disasters do we have to have before we recognize that good planning saves more lives and money then the profit from short-lived jobs?  If we want a sustainable healthy economy in California, we are going to have to invest in making good, well informed decisions.”

Cyphert, who lost her home in the 2003 Cedar Fire, also had this to say. “Governor Brown is dangerous to the financial and environmental health of California, and I am extremely disappointed in his short-sightedness.”   

 

Terry Weiner, Conservation Coordinator of the Desert Protective Council told ECM, "Although this SB 317 is dead for this legislative term, Senator Darrel Steinberg promises to bring the California Environmental Quality Act "reform" bill back for consideration next year.”

Language of Speaker Perez's bill would “gut, not reform, certain sections of CEQA by allowing some major construction projects related to urban infill development and transit projects to be exempt from CEQA review,  thereby undermining standards for transportation and housing, opening up the potential for adverse impacts to air quality in densely populated urban areas and likely lead to environmental injustice issues,” the environmental leader said.

She concluded, “All people concerned with protecting what we have left of our California quality of life need to watch for the revival of this legislation after the first of the year and be prepared to defend a law that has been in place for protection of California's air, water, endangered species and human quality of life since 1970.   CEQA does not need overhaul, it needs defending."

If you wish to contact your Assembly and State Senate members to voice your views on weakening CEQA environmental protections, you can find their contact information in our Citizens Action Center at http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/0809soundoff .

 

 


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Comments

Long live Big Brother

I love Big Brother

He feeds me.

He makes my life complete.

Though I walk through the valley of death Big Brother will watch over me.

OH WAIT

Big Brother is BROKE

Never mind.

Don't you just love those Greenies.

Always first to scream and throw a fit over anything that would benefit mankind in favor of shutting down the America everyone loves. Reminds me of a great speech of Charlton Heston "God rest his soul".

You think man can destroy the planet? What intoxicating vanity! Let me tell you about our planet. Earth is four-and-a-half-billion-years-old. There's been life on it for nearly that long, 3.8 billion years. Bacteria first; later the first multicellular life, then the first complex creatures in the sea, on the land. Then finally the great sweeping ages of animals, the amphibians, the dinosaurs, at last the mammals, each one enduring millions on millions of years, great dynasties of creatures rising, flourishing, dying away -- all this against a background of continuous and violent upheaval. Mountain ranges thrust up, eroded away, cometary impacts, volcano eruptions, oceans rising and falling, whole continents moving, an endless, constant, violent change, colliding, buckling to make mountains over millions of years. Earth has survived everything in its time.

 It will certainly survive us. If all the nuclear weapons in the world went off at once and all the plants, all the animals died and the earth was sizzling hot for a hundred thousand years, life would survive, somewhere: under the soil, frozen in arctic ice. Sooner or later, when the planet was no longer inhospitable, life would spread again. The evolutionary process would begin again. Might take a few billion years for life to regain its present variety. Of course, it would be very different from what it is now, but the earth would survive our folly, only we would not. If the ozone layer gets thinner, ultraviolet radiation sears earth, so what? Ultraviolet radiation is good for life. It's powerful energy. It promotes mutation, change. Many forms of life will thrive with more UV radiation. Many others will die out. You think this is the first time that's happened? Think about oxygen. Necessary for life now, but oxygen is actually a metabolic poison, a corrosive glass, like fluorine.
When oxygen was first produced as a waste product by certain plant cells some three billion years ago, it created a crisis for all other life on earth. Those plants were polluting the environment, exhaling a lethal gas. Earth eventually had an atmosphere incompatible with life. Nevertheless, life on earth took care of itself. In the thinking of the human being a hundred years is a long time. Hundred years ago we didn't have cars, airplanes, computers or vaccines. It was a whole different world, but to the earth, a hundred years is nothing. A million years is nothing. This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can't imagine its slow and powerful rhythms, and we haven't got the humility to try. We've been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we're gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.
 

 

 

Humans' Work

 CEQA was the work of humans who wanted to protect our planet.  Anyone who says otherwise should find another planet on which to reside.  There is no place here for projects that undermine life on this planet.  Governor Brown should revise his plan to eliminate laws and regulations that are needed for humans to thrive.  

Charles Darwin once warned that species proliferate until there is not sufficient sustenance for them to remain alive.  If we destroy our lands, as corporations want to do, Darwin's warning will apply to all human life.  I'm not ready for extinction, are you? 

   

The Lord's Work

All of creation is the Lord's work, not CEQA "reform"!   His creation is under attack, and "reforming" CEQA as envisioned will surely add to it's demise.   We should enjoy, not destroy, the awesome and glorious Great Outdoors He gave us!