Last week, Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) introduced Senate Bill 241, a bill designed to revoke judicial oversight of the environmental review process for 25 new development and transportation projects each year for five years. These 125 projects would receive a free pass to violate California’s premier environmental law – the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – by sidestepping the judicial review process designed to ensure developers are accountable for the impacts and the required mitigation of their projects. This would also mean Californians would be unnecessarily exposed to environmental and health impacts and be denied the opportunity to have a say in the future of their communities.
Unfortunately, this new attack on CEQA is not surprising. Previously rejected bad CEQA bills have a way of resurrecting themselves during budget negotiations and new legislative sessions. Whether it be a special exemption for Wal-Mart, or other big-box stores, or a massive football stadium in downtown Los Angeles, or granting a state agency the authority to hand-pick 125 project exemptions, there is a reason these projects do not want to be held accountable. Without CEQA protections, local residents would have no means to prevent the development of new toxic power plants, waste incinerators, or loud, traffic stopping football stadiums near their schools and neighborhoods.
To join the coalition of over the effort of a coalition over 150 (and growing!) environmental and justice groups, housing advocates, businesses and community leaders, and receive the latest CEQA news, please e-mail PCL’s Jena Price.