Last Minute Significant CEQA Reform Bill Emerges
A business and labor coalition group is proposing a new law to significantly reform CEQA before the current State Legislative session ends next week. The terms of the bill are expected to be made part of SB 317 (an unrelated bill) through what is called a “gut and amend” process. Although the proposed law may be further amended, the draft focuses on the following: (1) limiting analysis of environmental impacts in CEQA documents to compliance with State and Federal environmental regulations; (2) limiting mitigation measures to requirements under existing law; and (3) prohibiting certain types of legal challenges to CEQA environmental documents. Overall, the bill would significantly narrow the scope of environmental impacts analyzed and the mitigation measures available to address impacts. The proposal also would restrict the types of legal challenges that can be made to CEQA documents. An initial draft of the proposal has been posted online.
Some newspaper editorials have criticized the proposal as an end of the session rush job and have urged the Legislature to follow a procedure that would allow more review and debate. Last year, the Legislature passed some CEQA reform bills formulated at the very end of the session relating to new exemptions and the Los Angeles football stadium proposal. We will see what happens this year.