State Senator Noreen Evans, representing the North Coast, defends the California Environmental Quality Act in the Capitol Weekly:
CEQA was designed to give a voice to local people in local planning decisions. It ensures that residents in every California community can understand how land use decisions will impact shared resources---like clean air, clean water, open space, and traffic flow---and public health. It also empowers community members to hold public agencies accountable to local and state environmental laws. We cannot get rid of the requirement to disclose information to the public, allow public participation in the process, and the ability of the public to enforce the law when government is unable or unwilling to do so...
Projects like utility-scale renewable energy or High Speed Rail, which offer potential environmental benefits, can also have significant environmental and public health impacts. History shows us that CEQA works well when the protections it provides are in place, and such projects are improved through the rigorous and transparent environmental review process CEQA provides.
We will not strip the California Environmental Quality Act of its most important provisions simply because some allege it has played a role in our state’s economic challenges. California has seen more periods of growth and prosperity since 1970 than it has seen hard times. And despite this exponential growth, we still enjoy beautiful beaches, air quality has improved, and we are leading the way in the United States in tackling the difficult challenge of climate change. Our strides in all of these areas show just how well CEQA already works.
Whatever changes we might make to CEQA this year, we must leave its core principles intact: transparency in planning, mitigation of significant environmental damage, comprehensive protections to ensure cumulative analysis of impacts, robust and meaningful public participation, and the right of communities to use the court system to enforce these protections. The Californians of today---and of tomorrow---deserve nothing less.
Thanks to Streetsblog for the link.