Defending the California Environmental Quality Act — locally and in Sacramento
Since its passage in 1970 the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) has been critical to protecting the public's right to know about the impact that proposed development would have on everything from public health to traffic congestion to climate change. And for all these years it's weathered attacks from development and corporate forces. This year it's under attack in both Sacramento and San Francisco.
At the state level we are anticipating bills both to weaken and to strengthen CEQA. Whatever way the bills go, CEQA supporters are more organized and prepared than ever before to protect the law. A coalition of CEQA supporters, including environmental groups, labor unions, tribes, environmental-justice groups, civic organizations, public-health advocacy groups, and Sierra Club California, has been actively participating in efforts to get the word out that CEQA does indeed work well for protecting the environment and informing communities about the expected impacts of large construction projects.
Local attack in San Francisco
In 2003 the state passed down a mandate that project appeals under CEQA must be heard by “the elected body” locally. Unfortunately, the mandate came without a clear process. Last October Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced a set of amendments to 'streamline' the city's procedures, and we feared that these could greatly reduce San Franciscans' access to CEQA protections. At this point it looks like the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is not going to seriously weaken the city's environmental protections under CEQA, but negotiations continue over important details about empowering community members to challenge faulty environmental determinations and environmentally unsound projects. For more information see "Most SF environmental protections not to be gutted, after all".
The status of these bills keeps changing rapidly, and so we can't always keep this site updated on what action to take. To be informed, make sure that you are signed up to receive the Sierra Club Bay Chapter's updates and alerts.
To defend CEQA at the state level, help spread the word and show support for protecting CEQA’s essential role right now from your computers. “Like” the "CEQAWorks" page on Facebook and follow its Twitter feed at "@CEQAWorks".
For an excellent article on the value of CEQA, see "Watch out for so-called CEQA reforms--our best environmental-protection law is under attack "