Five ways to reform California’s landmark environmental law without ruining the Earth or the middle class

A cyclist uses a bike lane in downtown Los Angeles. The California Environmental Quality Act, known as CEQA, has stymied bike lanes up and down the state for more than a decade. (Los Angeles Times)

By: Byron de Arakal

When then-Gov. Ronald Reagan signed into law the California Environmental Quality Act in 1970, he and its authors could not have foreseen what the landmark legislation would become decades later: a law stretched so far beyond its original intent that it threatens to turn the Golden State’s economy to lead.

Though conceived as a limited set of rules requiring state and local agencies to identify and study the environmental impacts of their actions and to put in place measures — if feasible — to reduce those impacts, CEQA today is widely used and abused to stall and ultimately thwart public infrastructure projects and private-sector developments, often for entirely non-environmental reasons.

 

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