Phil Matier: Lawmakers Take Aim At California’s Environmental Policy

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A construction crew prepares a Bay Area roadway. (CBS)

A construction crew prepares a Bay Area roadway. (CBS)

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SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – An effort to streamiline one of California’s landmark environmental laws is moving forward in Sacramento.

This week, Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) introduced two new bills aimed at reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Currently, the law requires public agencies to examine the impact of proposed development on the environment. Some legislators say that requirement is being used to delay projects by bogging them down in paperwork.

Just last week, Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) unveiled his own framework of CEQA reform. But, there was early concern from environmentalists and labor groups that some of the provisions in Steinberg’s plan would allow for exemptions that were simply too broad for certain projects.

In general, environmentalists are opposed to any reform that they deem a diluting of the CEQA process. Leaders of the Sierra Club of California, for instance, said the current law is the best way to identify and mitigate the environmental impact of projects. Similarly, the Natural Resources Defense Council opposes dropping any environmental protections on the books.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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