(From the Sacramento News & Review, March 21, 2013)
If CEQA stood for “Challenge Everything, Question Authority” instead of California Environmental Quality Act, there probably wouldn’t be all this political drama. CEQA would be celebrated. Like YOLO. The Lonely Island might even follow up its “YOLO” tune with a CEQA number:
The system’s insane,
Got bats in the attic.
It’s the right way to go.
Don’t be some button-down schmo.
It’s harder—but not impossible—to build a catchy tune around the California Environmental Quality Act.
Apparently, it’s also hard not to place on the Legislture’s dance card some major brawl over the need for CEQA overhaul.
For Republicans and moderate Dems, from the Central Valley and the Inland Em, CEQA’s so unwieldy and crazy expensive, the delay for projects is too damn extensive. The more that gets built, more people to employ, add it all together, a bundle of economic joy.
“Modernize” is this year’s CEQA revise. Except what modernize means depends on the eyes.
CEQA’s supposed to keep the environment strong by examining projects to make sure they aren’t wrong. An impact report scopes the whole situation. If everything’s chill, there’s a neg declaration.
It was a Republican idea back in 1970—even then-Gov. Ronald Reagan believed CEQA was heavenly.
Forty years back, talkin’ hot pants and the first Earth Day, way before several members’ of the Assembly birthdays. Internet was a gleam in Al Gore’s eye; say “Text me” or “Google,” and people’d think you were high.
Over the years, CEQA’s stayed largely the same. But in 2013, California’s playin’ a new game.
CEQA just stomps on the bad, it don’t re-ward the good. Isn’t transit-friendly infill better than paving Muir Woods? Maybe a new project fits into a master plan. Doesn’t that deserve swift CEQA scan?
“Correct,” says Sen. Tom Berryhill, Modesto GOP. “’I’ve got a bill’ makes CEQA like ’one, two and three.’” Do right by the fish and the air and the other laws that protect them, no need to do it again in CEQA, assalamu alaykum.
Quoth Senator B.: “It’s a job issue for me. We’re talkin’ about efficiency.”
Gov. Jerry Brown, Berryhill notes, says parts of CEQA need to go, create more “consistent standards” so approval’s less slow. What exactly’s consistent, Jerry ain’t saying, but he just ran a CEQA end run to build some solar arraying.
Berryhill claims his bill makes CEQA more modern. Opponents say he ain’t right in the noggin’. Go the Berryhill route and CEQA’s castrated, knowing a project’s overall impact all but negated.
“I enter this debate at some personal peril. Some call me Steinberg. My first name’s Darrell. My CEQA riff is the choicest of all. I’m so straight on the track, everyone else don’t have jack.”
His goal is CEQA modernization, Steinberg says of his bill. But it’s def modernization, not that dub Berryhill. Steinberg says infill’s the kind, so a CEQA OK should be less of a grind. If there’s a similar project within recent memory, no need to get all supplementary. CEQA gets sleek, California goes long—or so says Darrell—if we start singing his song.
As the head of the Senate, sure, Darrell’s got power. But so far, at least, he’s singing alone in the shower. Enviros dig one part but spew over that. Business groups say bogarting CEQA is phat. Trial lawyers want to sue all parties with ease. If a compromise is found, it can’t Jerry displease.
So what’s to be done, which way will it go? Where does the wind blow?. Too early to know.
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