Another View: CEQA Reform Bill Leaves Safeguards In Place

Author(s): Michael H. Zischke

Source: The Sacramento Bee

9/9/2012

Michael Zischke and two other environmental and land use lawyers, Tina Thomas and Jocelyn Thompson, wrote an opinion piece that appeared in The Sacramento Bee on Sept. 9, 2012 responding to an August editorial the paper wrote about a CEQA reform bill.

In their piece, Zischke and the other attorneys argued that, despite the assertions made in paper's editorial, the bill is not an end-run around CEQA. The authors note that even though California's environmental standards are ”among the most stringent in the nation if not the world,” projects are frequently challenged under CEQA despite complying with tough local, state and federal environmental and land use laws.

“Under the CEQA reform bill, projects that are currently required to undergo CEQA review would still be required to undergo such review,” the authors wrote. “The bill, however, stated that if a project undergoes CEQA review and is subject to existing environmental standards and plans, then a legal claim cannot be asserted under CEQA that it should be required to go above and beyond existing law.”

Zischke, Thomas and Thompson also argue that the bill would allow agencies to ask for greater measures to alleviate local environmental issues and eliminate unnecessary litigation that often has little to do with the environment.

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