Southern California environment news and trends

A contagion of enviro review fast tracking hits Sacramento after AEG Stadium deal [UPDATE]

12:04 pm: The bill passed out of the State Senate's environment committee, 5-1, and is going straight to the floor, according to NRDC's David Petit. KPCC's Julie Small says they're debating the bill on the floor now. AEG refused to comment to Small about the bill. This is happening fast, if you can't tell.

12:14 pm:Why is Darrell Steinberg, the author of the bill mandating smart growth be included in CEQA planning, backing a fast-tracking of CEQA that lacks enforcement provisions?

12:25 pm: Just found LA Times coverage here, Curbed coverage of LAT coverage here.

2:49 pm: AB900 passed floor, now to Assembly.

 

Is AEG spawning a CONTAGION of precedent-setting changes to the state's environmental review process? 
A bill that back in April and May concerned schools now would speed review of CEQA appeals for major projects around the state. 

Sacramento Bureau Chief Julie Small and I have been talking this morning about AB 900, which seems to have been gutted and amended to extend the courtesy granted  AEG to the rest of the state. (And then some.)  

The bill's authors, Assembly members Joan Buchanan and Rich Gordon (who, incidentally, seems to represent my dad) point to the state's 12 percent unemployment rate in the preamble. (Darryl Steinberg, Senator, integral to the AEG deal, is a co-author) They go on to note that "there are large projects under consideration in various regions of the state that would replace old and outmoded facilities with new job-creating facilities to meet those regions' needs while also establishing new, cutting-edge environmental benefits to those regions."

In new sections of the state's Public Resources Code, 21180 and 21182, the kinds of projects the bill is talking about are defined. They include clean energy projects, but they also could include a whole pile of other projects too. 

The fast tracking would stay in place till the end of 2014, then sunset. It's got to pass before the end of this year to take effect. 

Julie Small says environmental lobbyists in town to testify on the AEG bill were gobsmacked to see this project this morning. 

But NRDC's David Petit likes the way SB 292, in a compromise he helped hammer out, speeds the AEG project. Two reasons he gives in his blog are:

  1. to make the stadium carbon neutral, AEG has to pursue offset opportunities locally first, and after that purchase them within the South Coast Air Basin; and
  2. the bill permanently gives the city of LA authority to enforce "mode shift" provisions. In a project like this that means, AEG will have to incentivize stadium attendees not to use private cars for travel to and from events, and do it permanently.

Those provisions are specific and enforceable. I don't see anything like these provisions in AB 900. 

 

(Photo from KPCC's own Julie Small. She says the room was packed so much that these folks were watching an overflow screen.)

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