Friday, June 08, 2012

Sierra Club: Dumb on high-speed rail, good on CEQA

Dear Rob,

Tell the Governor and your state legislators to stop weakening environmental review standards!

California's legislature and Governor Jerry Brown have created new laws in the last year that chip away at environmental review of large-scale development projects. First it was for stadiums. Then it was for miles-wide solar projects in the desert. Now the Governor wants to weaken environmental review for the state's high-speed rail program.

Sierra Club California strongly supports high-speed rail as an important component in California's transportation system. But we also strongly support effective environmental review that protects public health, the environment and community integrity. The governor's latest proposal is just plain wrong.

Tell the governor and the legislature that enough is enough! Urge them to stop weakening applications of California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

A big rail project doesn't deserve weaker review. Good review balances everyone's needs, including the environment's.


Kathryn Phillips
Director Sierra Club

The Sierra Club's letter to Governor Brown

Several years ago, SPUR advocated this strategy in its pro-high-speed rail study, noting that it may be necessary for "an abridged environmental impact process under CEQA, or selective CEQA exemptions in the station area and/or a total CEQA exemption for a period of years for projects consistent with the station area plans."

Leah Shahum of the Bicycle Coalition was perplexed that the Bicycle Plan had to submit to the most important environmental law in California, but her understanding of that law was pretty sketchy.

As the San Jose Mercury News reports, CEQA has been the law since 1970 in California:

CEQA, a groundbreaking law enacted in 1970, is aimed at preventing developers from running roughshod over the environment. Builders must identify all environmental problems with their projects, such as how it affects parking, soil quality or water pollution, then make an effort to mitigate those impacts.

The Mercury News provides this bit of bullshit from a union lobbying group:

"California is littered with really good projects that have failed the CEQA test not because they were environmentally unsound but because groups have figured out how to litigate," said Jim Earp, executive director of the California Alliance for Jobs.

Earp is just singing for his supper, since even stupid projects create union jobs. Interesting that he didn't list any "really good projects" that have been cancelled because of CEQA litigation.

Labels: ,