Principles only mean something if you stick to them when it’s inconvenient.

There’s been some focus of late on legislation to “reform” (read: gut) the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), mostly because one of the bills waiting for the Governor’s signature would help fast-track a football stadium in Los Angeles. While the GOP “attack on CEQA” game is an annual favorite come budget time, this year the down economy helped spur three Dem-sponsored bills, all waiting on the Governor’s desk.

Offered up to ease the wrath of the Job-Creator-Hater god, these bills are sprinkled with some quotable nuggets:

SB 226: Because of the severe recession that continues to impact California and because of the need to promote jobs in the construction industry, it is important to make the sustainable communities assessment available as early as possible in order to promote the construction of projects that will foster the use of transit.

AB 900: The purpose of this act is to provide unique and unprecedented streamlining benefits under the California Environmental Quality Act for projects that provide the benefits described above for a limited period of time to put people to work as soon as possible. [This one even has a spiffy name “Jobs and Economic Improvement Through Environmental Leadership Act of 2011”]

SB 292: The overall unemployment rate in California is 12.0 percent, in Los Angeles County it is 13.3 percent, and in the City of Los Angeles it is 14.6 percent.

The project will generate an estimated 12,000 full-time jobs during construction and 11,000 permanent jobs at the Los Angeles Convention Center and in the hospitality and related industries. It is anticipated that the development of additional hotels, restaurants, and retail uses in the vicinity of the project would generate additional jobs in excess of these estimates. [Yup, this one is for the Los Angeles Chargers.]

Yes, all three of these job-creating, economy-spurring bills were introduced by Democrats. Looks like our state Democratic leaders are doing a great job masquerading as Republicans. Apparently it’s a national trend, so trucker hats off to representatives representin’.
The bad news, however, is that this is terrible for the environment; not only in terms of precedent, but in real, on-the-ground impacts to communities around the state. It’s also verification that special financial interests trump the good of the commons, for politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Watering down one of our oldest, most powerful state environmental regulations is a risky business. Are we really in such dire straits that we have to take up the Rick Perry approach? The GOP-created false premise that we need to ease regulatory burdens so the “job creators” can hurry up and employ us may be more believable when the shortcut leads to a stadium instead of offshore accounts, but it’s just one more concession for the good of a few, at the expense of everyone. It’s another distraction, potentially pitting environmentalists against unions when we should be working together to create long-term, sustainable jobs. Quite frankly, it’s time for our Democratic leaders to stop following the GOP looking for crumbs, and to start sowing seeds.

Livia Borak is an attorney at Coast Law Group, LLP in Encinitas where she focuses on a variety of environmental issues representing various non-profit organizations. She’s a former San Diego Coastkeeper staff attorney and member of the third-place CityBeat Trivia night team By Rolland’s Beard. She serves on the board of League of Conservation Voters and is legal advisor to the environmental nonprofit Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation. She makes killer chocolate chip vegan cookies.

by Livia Borak

Originally posted at