Schwarzennegger seeks Enviro exemptions for 100 major construction projects
---100 developers would get to build what they want and not have to pay to fix any of the problems they cause.
The Schwarzenegger administration seeks to exempt some 100 major construction projects across the state – including private developments – from California environmental laws. The plan, denounced by environmentalists, would block the power of the courts to review 25 projects each year from 2011 through 2014, and give final authority over the projects to his administration.
The projects have not been identified publicly, but potentially they could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars – or more.... An earlier version of the proposal drafted on Dec. 29 listed 20 construction projects across the state, arranged according to their location within the state’s patchwork of air quality management districts. The latest version increased the number of projects to 25 annually through 2014, distributed according to county clusters.
Under the proposal, 10 projects would be located within Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties. Five others would be located in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma counties. Five more would be in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare counties. The remaining five counties would be drawn from across the state....
The construction unions favor the jobs, but questioned whether loosening CEQA was the way to get them.
The U.S. Senate's Budget Committee is not too keen on the idea either:
from PCL Insider, 1/22/2010
POORLY PLANNED DEVELOPMENT
The committee then critiqued the Governor's proposal to allow over 100 major new developments to bypass measures to ensure smart planning and meaningful public participation. The Department of Finance was pressed to explain how the Administration could expect developers to mitigate the impacts of their projects or include local input in the absence of any mechanisms for accountability. PCL was on hand along with several other groups to explain that the proposal would be a de facto exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act, and could lead to new toxic power plants or waste incinerators near schools and neighborhoods. Local residents would have no way to insist that a project's pollution and other impacts be mitigated to minimize harm. Again, several committee members questioned how the proposal would create jobs or improve the current budget crisis.