Our monthly update on projects the Regional Climate Change Program is working on as part of our effort to maintain and improve the health of our beautiful "Range of Light."
SB 731—Last CEQA Bill Standing
August 14, 2013
By Craig Breon
Regional Climate Change Program Director, Sierra Nevada Alliance
After all the discussion of reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) this year, there’s only one bill left with a month to go in this year’s legislative session. At this point, Senate Bill 731 would make only modest changes to CEQA, marking a victory for the conservation community and for communities across California. However, the Governor’s office, through the State Office of Planning and Research (OPR) has proposed amendments to SB 731 that would fundamentally compromise CEQA, undermining the environmental protections and good governance principles that have protected California and Californians for over four decades now.
Governor Brown signaled early this year that he was siding with developers and polluters in the CEQA fight, to his discredit. Luckily, a majority of our State Legislature didn’t agree with the Governor, resulting in bills like SB 731’s taking a very moderate course towards reform. However, it is difficult to know what actions the Governor and his representatives are taking behind the scenes in Sacramento as the deadline for this year’s legislation approaches.
If accepted, OPR’s proposed amendments to SB 731 would:
• Allow CEQA exemptions for certain residential projects, relying on environmental documents from as long back as 1980. Such documents are clearly out of date, and relying on them would allow many developers to seriously damage natural resources and existing communities with little oversight.
• Allow cities to set their own “environmental standards” which, if adhered to, would allow development projects to bypass much of the investigation and public comment currently required by CEQA. Clearly, some cities would abuse this provision, and environmental protection in California would suffer greatly.
• Limit or eliminate various public notice currently in the law, cutting citizens out of the very discussion that will so affect their lives.
There’s more, but that should give a sense of how devastating OPR’s proposed amendments could be.
The environmental community is rallying, opposing the OPR amendments in the legislature and in a letter to the Governor, signed by numerous environmental, labor, and community organizations, including the Alliance. If you’re a member of a conservation organization, consider contacting the Planning and Conservation League (PCL.org) to sign your group onto the letter. As an individual, please consider writing a letter of your own to the Governor’s office opposing the OPR amendments to SB 731.
As always, you can follow the fun at CEQAWorks.org or contact us at the Alliance for how you might get involved.
Welcome Danny Lapin
The Regional Climate Change Program could not be successful in our work without our talented and dedicated interns. Danny is the Alliance’s new Regional Climate Change Intern. Danny grew up exploring the Eastern Sierra and fell in love with the beautiful lakes and rivers in the region. That passion led to a B.S. in Environmental Sciences with the University of California at Riverside and the pursuit of an M.S. in Environmental Policy at Bard College in New York. He has worked with the Regional Water Quality Control Board and is focusing his research on studying and implementing resilient water planning policies for the Sierra Nevada Region. He has been involved in several projects involving water supply management, promoting efficient and sustainable irrigation practices in the global south, designing green infrastructure projects, and Sierra snowpack issues. Danny is excited to use his background in water and climate policy at the Alliance. When he’s not working, Danny can most likely be found running, cooking for people, or dancing Argentine Tango.
ESLT's Lands & Legacy is an annual event to celebrate the work we do to preserve vital lands. Hosted by Rusty Gregory and Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, this annual fundraiser includes a walking tour on one of our conservation projects, followed by our celebration dinner and silent auction. ESLT is thrilled to announce that our keynote speaker will be Rand Wentworth, President of the national Land Trust Alliance.
In addition to our events on Saturday, there will also be an optional Friday evening reception and classical concert at the Mammoth Lakes Music Festival, featuring the Felici Piano Trio and other noted musicians. Guests must reserve separately for this event.
Date: August 3rd
Place: Mountainside Conference Center - Mammoth Mountain
More Information: Click Here
Eyes on the Lake is a new volunteer effort focused on stopping aquatic invasive plants in their tracks. If you are a water lover at Tahoe (swimmer, boater, paddler, fisherman, or casual beachgoer) then we need your help.
As a participant in Eyes on the Lake you will learn how to:
- Identify aquatic invasive plants threatening Tahoe,
- Conduct simple surveys for these plants while you are out enjoying Tahoe’s waters,
- Report what you find AND
- Help the Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Program halt the spread of these invasives before they destroy Lake Tahoe’s pristine waters.
Date: North Lkae: July 29, South Lake:July 30
More Information: Click here to register
Only a short time left for Early Bird prices! Register by June 30th and save up to 37% off Pre Registration prices and up to 50% off Walk In prices! Come celebrate 20 years of accomplishments protecting and restoring the Sierra Nevada. Reflect on our Sierra heroes, stories and lessons learned, building on our past to guide future actions. Engage generations of leaders to discuss diverse and creative actions we can take today and tomorrow to save our beloved Sierra.
Date: September 13-15, 2013
Place: South Lake Tahoe, CA
More Information: Click here to register or email Lynn
Comic of the Month
Newsletter contents prepared by Danny Lapin.
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