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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Governor Proposes "Bad-Economy" Exemption from Eco-Laws for Road Projects

From PCL Insider, 11/14/2008

Should we try to help fix the state's fiscal crisis by pulling our punches on the climate crisis? Governor Schwarzenegger seems to be heading in that direction. His Economic Stimulus Plan, released last Thursday, calls for "environmental process exemptions" for Proposition 1B bond projects, bypassing the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In essence, the Governor is claiming that the economic benefit of getting transportation and flood protection projects underway quickly will outweigh the benefits we'll get from conducting careful environmental reviews that would ensure we're funding the best projects while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and other negative impacts.

As the Governor's staff explained it:

"KEMPTON: Well, let me answer the first part of the question first. If you remember, back in 1994, we actually got exemptions from CEQA for much of our toll bridge seismic retrofit program. That was an emergency issue. We think this, the state of the economy, is a similar type of an emergency with respect to needing to respond to a serious problem. And so we're going to take some of the same kind of exemptions that we received back in 1994 and ask the legislature for that kind of relief. So we would identify a group of projects that would be exempt from CEQA for some period of time and then we would also ask for imposition of a permit accelerating process which will allow for early settlement of permit issues."

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