Update on CEQA Reform: Steinberg’s Quest for the “Elusive Middle Ground”

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The last year witnessed what once appeared to be a groundswell of support for the “modernization” of the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”), loosely meaning easing the burden of the process itself and minimizing its abuse by project opponents to stall or kill what are often environmentally beneficial projects. Governor Brown is a supporter, calling CEQA reform the “Lord’s work,” and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg professed his commitment to carry through meaningful reform this year.

In February, Steinberg introduced SB 731, a “spot” bill long on aspirational CEQA reform goals, but without statutory language. On April 24, Steinberg amended SB 731 to include actual language. Steinberg described SB 731 as seeking that “elusive middle ground between those who support fundamentally undermining the statute and those who support the status quo.”

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