Waste On Waste: CA's Useless Reform of its Green Laws

The headline says "(CA) Lawmakers OK Bill To Soften Environmental Reviews" and CA Greens are making the expected noise about the destruction of the Earth as a result of the pathetic efforts of Sacramento Democrats, but don't believe it.

California lawmakers on Friday approved a bill that would soften parts of a landmark, 4-decade-old environmental law and could pave the way for the quick approval of large developments across the state.

In the final hours of the year's legislative session, Democrats pushed through a measure that would give the governor the power to speed up the environmental review process on some large construction projects, including sports stadiums and green manufacturing plants. It was sent to the governor late Friday.


If signed by the governor, AB900 would allow projects costing $100 million or more to request streamlined judicial review under the California Environmental Quality Act, known as CEQA. That law, passed in 1970, requires public agencies to identify the environmental impacts of construction and other projects and mitigate them.

This is nothing more than standard New Deal-style corporatism. It's a gift to labor unions, big developers, and a few urban pols who want to build sports arenas. The bill's main proponents are city fathers in Sacramento, who want to build a new basketball arena, and the city of Los Angeles, which wants to build a new football stadium. Liberals are the "smart" party, of course, so I guess they know something about economic benefits (economically, they are a loser) of the public funding of sports stadiums that the rest of us don't know.

The bill's limitations are a cruel joke. You need to have a project costing at least $100 million in order to qualify for expedited review. So a dry-cleaner who wants to expand his business, or a developer who wants to build a dozen homes, has to go through every regulatory hoop in creation, while billionaire sport team owners, and their political patrons, sail through.

We don't need $100 million sports arenas or solar panel plants (the bill's proponents are talking grandly about how "green" factories can also benefit from streamlined review, as if the Solyndra BK happened in an alternate reality). We need hundreds of little "developments" - AKA new businesses - that provide permanent jobs, not temporary jobs for a few thousand construction union members. But, Democrats don't understand economics, they understand politics. And politics says the opportunities for graft and corruption lie in "big" projects, not small business.

If you want to reform CA's environmental laws, you need to get rid of them (and the state's enforcement agencies) and rely on federal law, which is bad enough, but would still be an improvement.

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