Senate Committee Acknowledges Problems with Environmental Law

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JobCreatorA hearing on a California Chamber of Commerce-supported job creator bill provided a forum for senators to acknowledge problems with the state environmental law while disagreeing on the solutions.

The bill was SB 1306 (J. Stone; R-Temecula), which aimed to level the playing field for litigation regarding the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

SB 1306 sought to allow a “prevailing party” to recover attorney’s fees instead of allowing only a defendant to recover attorney’s fees when the action was filed in bad faith.

Misuse of Process

CalChamber Policy Advocate Anthony Samson pointed out to the Senate Judiciary Committee that far too often, the CEQA process is not used for its intended purpose—environmental protection—but for opponents to stop a project or other interested parties to gain concessions about elements of a project.

The struggles, he pointed out, have pit business versus business, unions versus business, “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) versus business, and even lead agency versus lead agency.

He commented that the hearing on SB 1306 carried forward an important dialogue on fixing problems with the CEQA process.

Committee members acknowledged there are problems with how CEQA is being used, including delays in project timelines,while a couple expressed reservations about the approach in SB 1306.

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CalChamber Policy Advocate Anthony Samson summarizes the misuses that have interfered with the environmental protection goals of the California Environmental Quality Act. To see the video click here.

Key Vote

The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected SB 1306 on a vote of 2-4 on April 26, then granted the bill reconsideration.

Ayes: Anderson (R-Alpine), Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa).

Noes: Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), Leno (D-San Francisco), Monning (D-Carmel), Wieckowski (D-Fremont).

No vote recorded: Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys).

Staff Contact: Anthony Samson

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Anthony Samson
About Anthony Samson
Anthony Samson, CalChamber policy advocate for environmental regulation, housing and land use issues from November 2013 through 2016, is senior attorney/policy advisor for Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP. He previously was an attorney at a statewide law firm that specializes in mining, land use, and natural resources law. He earned a B.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and a J.D. from Michigan State University College of Law, where he served as the articles editor of the Michigan State Law Review.