Very sneaky, Walmart: How the mega-retailer rolled back California regulations

Labor, environmental, and political leaders cry foul as Calif. Democrats curtail landmark environmental law

By : salon – excerpt

Labor, environmental, and political leaders cry foul as Calif. Democrats curtail landmark environmental law

While Washington has been warring over the shutdown and the debt ceiling, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed bills expanding access to abortion and restricting local police collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement – bills that advocates hope will join past Golden State laws in proving to be national precedents. But if those bills have gotten little notice amid the showdown in Washington, another – signed by Brown the Friday afternoon before the shutdown – has gotten even less. It’s a “reform” that critics say waters down what’s been the country’s strongest statewide environmental law – and represents Walmart’s latest lobbying coup in a state where Democrats control every branch of government.
“It’s amazing to me how few people are willing to stand up to this corporation,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. “And mainly because they’re afraid.”… (more)

CEQA Roundup: Have negotiations really stalled?

Environmentalists have expressed concern about how these standards would be set, but have not yet publicly commented on Steinberg’s proposal. In their open letter last week, though, would-be reformers may have swept the ground out from under this approach, saying that it may be impractical to set these thresholds statewide.

by Justin Ewers : caeconomy – excerpt

The clock is officially ticking on the year-long effort to update the California Environmental Quality Act, with the Assembly returning to session this week amid rising concerns that negotiations between business, environmental, and labor groups have stalled…

The policy obstacles

Since he first introduced his legislation, Steinberg has insisted his aim is to streamline the CEQA process for infill development—part of his own years-long effort to curb urban sprawl and help the state meet its climate goals. At the heart of his approach has been a proposal to set new “thresholds” for environmental impacts like traffic and noise that have become major obstacles to infill projects.

Environmentalists have expressed concern about how these standards would be set, but have not yet publicly commented on Steinberg’s proposal. In their open letter last week, though, would-be reformers may have swept the ground out from under this approach, saying that it may be impractical to set these thresholds statewide.

With the foundation of Steinberg’s legislation apparently wobbling, business groups drew attention to what is not yet in the bill—calling for CEQA litigants to be required to reveal who they are (something the law doesn’t currently require) and demanding CEQA plaintiffs pay for the preparation of the public environmental documents that lead agencies must compile during lawsuits

Steinberg himself seems to have been surprised by the opposition on the part of some labor leaders, in particular, who have pushed back against his most basic goal: Updating the CEQA process for infill projects. While the Senate leader has tried from the start to write a bill that would drive more of this type of development across the state, sources say some labor leaders view the coming infill wave as the source of a steady stream of jobs—and they are wary of losing CEQA as a tool they can use to reach project labor agreements with developers…

At a time the governor is already trying to resolve a BART strike and escalating prison crisis, that may present a significant challenge… (more)

 

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