Bill to loosen landmark environmental law expected (law was signed by REAGAN)
A proposal to loosen California's landmark environmental protection law is expected to be introduced at the Capitol as soon as Thursday, giving the public and lawmakers only about a week to debate and consider the controversial legislation's fate.Backers of the proposal, largely from the business community, say the California Environmental Quality Act passed in 1970 needs to be updated because it has become cumbersome and some individuals and groups misuse the lawto stop or delay developmentfor non-environmental reasons.
Republicans in the Legislature have long sought changes to the environmental law, commonly known as CEQA, and this year some Democrats, including Gov. Jerry Brown, signaled that they are open for discussion.
At a news conference last month, the governor said, "I've never seen a CEQA exemption I didn't like." And on Wednesday in San Francisco at a press conference for his tax-raising ballot measure Brown said of the proposal that has been circulating in the Capitol: "To tell you the truth, I have not read it. In fact it's not even clear we have a final draft yet. But look - CEQA reform is the Lord's work."
Environmental groups say the proposal is an attempt to gut the law in the waning days of the legislative session in order to avoid public input and scrutiny. The Legislature's two-year session comes to a close Aug. 31.