Conservationists Set Sights on Protecting California Environmental Quality Act in 2013 Legislative Session

Planning and Conservation League's Annual Legislative symposium, "CEQA: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow?" included top conservationists, legislative leaders

Jan 14, 2013, 16:01 ET from Planning and Conservation League

DAVIS, Calif., Jan. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- On Saturday, the Planning and Conservation League and PCL Foundation held their annual legislative symposium to educate conservation advocates, grassroots activists, and attorneys about California's most pressing legislative environmental issues. In light of ongoing efforts by business and development interests – including some in the State Legislature – to drastically weaken the California Environmental Quality Act, this year's symposium focused exclusively on that issue.

"The California Environmental Quality Act is the foundation on which all other environmental protection laws in California are built," said Bruce Reznik, Executive Director of the Planning and Conservation League (PCL). "It's clear that efforts are mounting to drastically weaken this landmark policy, which has guided development in California well through good times and bad. The conservation community is committed to protecting the rights of Californians to be active participants in the process for making decisions about land use."

The California Environmental Quality Act was signed into law by then-Governor Ronald Reagan in 1970. Since its inception, it has ensured that public agencies make land use decisions in a participatory and transparent way. Unlike other subject-specific environmental protection laws, CEQA provides a process through which land use decisions must be made. This process ensures ample opportunities for public involvement and also requires that public agencies approve projects that minimize environmental damage to the extent possible.

This weekend's PCL Symposium included speakers with varied perspectives on CEQA reform. State Senator Michael Rubio, who has been a vocal proponent of major changes to CEQA, joined State Senator Noreen Evans – a strong CEQA proponent – on a morning panel that also included speakers from the infill and environmental justice community. The day-long event included 10 additional sessions focused on exploring where the California Environmental Quality Act is helping to ensure sustainable land-use, transportation, water and energy planning, while exploring where the law may be able to be improved. 

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg gave the luncheon keynote address, discussing his perspective on the future of CEQA. Senator Evans and the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment received awards from PCL for their work to defend and enforce the California Environmental Quality Act.  

"Changes to the California Environmental Quality Act should not be made lightly," continued Mr. Reznik. "This law is an environmental bill of rights for Californians. We all count on it to protect our air, our water, and public health. This issue is of vital importance for everyone who calls this state home."

To see the full agenda for the PCL 2013 Annual Legislative Symposium, go to:

About the Planning and Conservation League
For more than 40 years, the Planning and Conservation League has fought to develop a body of environmental laws for California that set the standard for the rest of the United States.

SOURCE Planning and Conservation League