By E. Clement Shute Jr. : smdailyjournal.com – excerpt
The two of us remember the challenges that faced our state before 1970, the year the California Environmental Quality Act was enacted. We are disturbed by recent proposals to weaken this landmark legislation, which has served as the cornerstone of California’s environmental protection laws.
While the challenges facing the environment are different today (in fact, they are probably even more difficult), the need for CEQA is as strong as it was in 1970. We cannot forget the reasons that led to our state’s hard-won environmental safeguards. Those reasons still exist.
Before CEQA, monied interests dominated development decisions and California residents had little power to stop the widespread damage to our shared natural resources. Our laws at that time did not allow the public any means of requiring consideration of the environmental harms caused by development.
For example, in the early 1960s, the San Francisco Bay was being filled at a rate that, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, would have left just a shipping channel by 2020. No laws existed to prevent this environmental travesty. Led by Save the Bay, the Legislature created the Bay Conservation and Development Commission in 1969 to protect the Bay; it enacted CEQA the following year… (more)