Legislators Defend Environmental Protections

Jared Huffman

Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and 32 other Assemblymembers and Senators have blocked  last-minute legislation to undermine California’s most significant environmental protection law, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
This 42-year old law has protected communities from pollution and allowed citizens to have a voice in decisions affecting their neighborhoods, public health, and quality of life.
Legislative leaders said Thursday they have dropped plans to overhaul California’s environmental regulations in a way that would have made it easier for developers and local governments to build new projects.
California’s business community made a highly visible push this month to loosen the state’s landmark law, known as the California Environmental Quality Act.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg on Thursday told a group of reporters that the effort would not go forward this year, despite legislative language introduced a day earlier.
“This law, for all of its strengths and its fault, is far too important to re-write in the last days of session,” said Steinberg, D-Sacramento.
In a letter sent earlier in the week to Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez, Huffman and his colleagues urged the leaders to “oppose any proposal to create significant new exemptions or otherwise re-write CEQA in the days ahead.”
“The protections CEQA affords are too important to change without careful, thoughtful analysis and review by stakeholders, the public, and a full, deliberative legislative process,” said Huffman in the letter. “We stand ready to work with you on thoughtful CEQA improvements.”