Steinberg Sets CEQA Reform as Agenda Priority

September 13, 2012

Resolute in his commitment to improve California’s benchmark environmental protection law, State Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg is announcing plans to convene stakeholder meetings and at least one informational hearing before the Legislature convenes in January to examine necessary reforms of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  Steinberg includes CEQA reform as a priority on his agenda for the upcoming legislative session.

“I have always been a strong believer and staunch defender of the California Environmental Quality Act. For more than four decades, CEQA has protected California communities and preserved our wildlife habitat, our farmlands and the natural treasures of this state,” said Steinberg (D-Sacramento). “But like any well-intentioned law in existence for more than 40 years, changes are needed to eliminate abuses. We must ensure CEQA is used to protect our environment through a more efficient and timely process.”

The author of SB 375, landmark legislation to promote sustainable transit-oriented growth, Senator Steinberg has worked toward improving CEQA during his entire tenure as Senate President pro Tempore. During the 2011-12 legislative session, he was instrumental in the passage of AB 900 which provides expedited judicial review of CEQA challenges to benefit large, environmentally sound projects to help create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

At the end of the current legislative session, Steinberg pledged to take up the mantel of CEQA reform as a priority in 2013, with the goal of preserving the law’s strengths while improving the measure to root out abuses that stifle the economy. Toward that end, the Pro Tem is announcing his intended recommendation to Senate Rules that Senator Michael Rubio be appointed Chair of the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality for the upcoming legislative session. The current Chair, Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), is terming out of the Senate in November.

“Since the day he arrived in the Senate, Michael Rubio has shown a keen interest and a sharp intellect on environmental issues ranging from cap-and-trade to CEQA,” said Steinberg. “He will bring new energy and ‘outside the box’ thinking to California’s environmental laws and regulations.”

Rubio (D-Bakersfield) was elected to his first Senate term in 2010. He has authored legislation on the state’s environmental quality act, permit streamlining and clean energy. Pro Tem Steinberg will recommend the balance of his appointees to the committee in December, maintaining the tradition of the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality as a thoughtful steward for a clean environment in our state.