Support Grows For Modifying Environmental Law

Sacramento- California’s four-decade-old enviormental protection law has been credited with saving habitat, reducing air polution and giving residents a voice against deep-pocketed developers.

Yet this year, the California Environmental Quality Act has become a target for sweeping changes in the Legislature. Democrats who typically align with environmental groups are taking seriously the concerns that have long been raised by business leaders.

The champions of change include Gov. Jerry Brown, who has called reforming the law “the Lord’s work.” Critics say the act is being used well beyond its intended purpose and instead is employed by unions, activist groups and even rival developers to delay or stop projects they don’t like, often at great legal expense to developers.

The law has been amended virtually every year since it was signed in 1970, often in the form of “nipping around the edges and carving out exemptions,” said Richard Frank, a professor of

environmental practice in the law school of UC Davis. This time, he sees momentum building behind larger changes to the law.

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