God-like legislators fail to pass enviro reforms

Aug. 24, 2012

By Katy Grimes

Despite promises to pass desperately needed reforms to the California Environmental Quality Act, lawmakers in the state Senate killed the CEQA reform bill co-authored by Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Thousand Oaks.

“The CEQA reform effort that I co-authored was unceremoniously killed today by Senate Democrats, postponing any action till next year,” Gorell posted on Facebook. “Gov. Brown needs to show at least a modicum of leadership on this issue if he truly supports CEQA reform as he states.”

“Sen. Michael Rubio, who had been seeking co-authors for the bill as recently as Wednesday, said this morning – just hours before the announcement – that the legislation remained viable,” the Sacramento Bee reported. “Later, standing beside Steinberg, the Central Valley Democrat said, ‘We always have to read the dynamics of the building.'”

But standing next to Sen. Pres pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, is like standing next to Tony Soprano, if you’ve found yourself on the other side of an issue. While Rubio, a Democrat from Shafter, had been sincere in his CEQA reform efforts, there wasn’t a ghost of a chance that Democrats would let CEQA reform actually pass.

Gorell has said that the Legislature’s practice of passing bills that exempt CEQA for specific projects is not the best way to address the issue. Last year, lawmakers pushed through two bills at ramrod speed, which expedited the required legal review of any potential CEQA-related court challenges.

The first bill was the proposed downtown Los Angeles football stadium, and the second bill authorized exemptions to selected projects with costs of $100 million or more.

The bills were passed along party lines.

Even Gov. Jerry Brown has said that he will seriously entertain CEQA reforms, based on his experiences with stringent environmental restrictions while Mayor of Oakland.  “I’ve never seen a CEQA exemption I didn’t like.”

Brown called it “the Lord’s work” during a campaign stop this week.

The CEQA Working Group, a business-labor-government coalition, released its four-point proposal to reduce frivolous environmental litigation and duplicative government oversight. The reforms were placed in SB 317, by Sen. Rubio on Wednesday.

Steinberg and Rubio said that they would continue to study CEQA reforms. “The Lord’s work is not done overnight, nor is it done in two weeks,” Rubio said. “But we need to roll up our sleeves, get to work.”

But there will be no work done on CEQA reforms after 33 Democrats signed a letter to Assembly Speaker John Perez and Steinberg, calling off the dogs seeking “to weaken California’s most important environmental law.”

(For part ll, read “Nothing is what it seems in California politics.” Since I posted what I thought was a terribly news-worthy story, more information has come to light.)

1 comment

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  1. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 24 August, 2012, 08:56

    -So There

    That’s what you get for saying kangaroo rats taste like chicken!

    Reply this comment

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