Catching up with China
|Picture of Mongolia by Lu Guang|
A recent headline on the front page of the Chronicle: "Lawmakers OK bill to soften environmental reviews"
...Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who championed the bill: "We are not doing anything to weaken key environmental laws, but if we can resolve disputes faster than not, good projects will be done sooner."
On the other hand, "bad" projects may also be done sooner. The whole point of the law they're watering down---the California Environmental Quality Act, aka "CEQA"---is to determine the impact projects will have on the environment before they are implemented.
As I've pointed out before, the Bicycle Coalition has long complained about CEQA and the Level of Service standard for doing traffic studies, which they'd like to do away with so that they and the city could jam up traffic on busy streets---taking away traffic lanes and street parking to make bike lanes---without having to worry about CEQA. Now the SFBC has both Democrats and Republicans willing to join them in diluting a good law, though the Chronicle story is about fast-tracking stadium deals, not bike lanes. But the precedent is now there.
High-speed rail supporters like President Obama keep saying that we need to catch up with China, which, until lately, hasn't worried much about its environment (see photo above).