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Budget Wars: Republicans Push Brown for CEQA Changes

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In move that's ticked off environmentalists, a group of Republican lawmakers are withholding votes for Gov. Jerry Brown's budget plan unless Brown agrees to amend the California Environmental Quality Act, reports the Los Angeles Times. From the paper: "The demand, pushed in private talks with the governor, would curtail lawsuits against projects threatening ecological damage, grant waivers to big telecommunications companies and exempt many urban developments from environmental review." And more: "The proposal would sharply limit Californians' ability to go to court to challenge a construction project's environmental impact report — a document critical to final approval. The state attorney general would still be able to file such lawsuits. Citizens would keep limited rights to file litigation, but only by making a deposit to the court of $50,000, or 1% of a construction project's costs if that amount is smaller."

Environmentalists say any changes to CEQA should have a public vetting process, a spokesperson for Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), who proposed the changes, says the move will create jobs, and it looks like AT & T, which would benefit from the loosened restrictions (they could expand their telecom network), may have had a hand in crafting the legislation.
· GOP lawmakers threaten to withhold votes unless environmental rules are rewritten [LAT]