Democratic Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg has promised to find the right balance as he rewrites the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. He wants the law to continue to protect the state’s environment, as supporters urge, but no longer be abused, as critics complain. But the coalition of business groups leading the push for a CEQA overhaul says Steinberg’s current proposal could actually lead to more abuse – not less.
“It’s an illusion of reform – rather than actual reform,” says Jennifer Hernandez, an attorney advising the business coalition, which sent Steinberg a letter Monday saying it can’t support the bill right now. “There was just a real desire to go on record of commending the senator for his willingness to tackle this very, very difficult project – but also a declaration that half-measures or the illusion of reform would not be satisfactory.”
Labor and environmental groups oppose a major CEQA rewrite. They’re worried that could weaken California’s environmental safeguards.
Steinberg has said he hopes to reach a deal by the end of this year’s legislative session in mid-September – but both sides will have to be willing to compromise.