Yesterday, Los Angeles Times political columnist George Skelton called out blatant abuse of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), arguing that CEQA lawsuits are leading to middle class job loss and attacks on “green” projects like solar and renewable energy projects. Reforms are needed, he suggests, including transparency to identify those bankrolling CEQA lawsuits.
Key excerpts from Skelton’s column:
- “…CEQA also has been shamefully abused by union blackmailers — “greenmailers” — who threaten to derail a project by filing an environmental lawsuit unless the developer caves in to their labor demands.”
- “Unions aren’t the only abusers. Business rivals try to drive off potential competitors. And NIMBYs — “not in my backyard” — fight local projects, even environmentally friendly ones such as transit stations.”
- “The result is costly, years-long delays, if not outright project scuttling, that discourages future investments in the state.”
- “The fact that CEQA is flawed and abused is no secret in the state Capitol.”
- “Another much-needed reform is transparency. The true plaintiffs — the CEQA lawsuit bankrollers — don’t have to be identified.”
- “[The Holland & Knight] study found that 45% of plaintiffs remain basically anonymous, using fronts with nice environmental-sounding names and hiring “bounty” and “shakedown” lawyers. Digging into the paperwork, she estimates that most of the anonymous plaintiffs are NIMBYs, but roughly one-third are unions.”
- “Her report includes this chilling statement: ‘CEQA, which in its heyday was used to challenge nuclear plants, coal-fired plants and plants burning hazardous waste or garbage, is now used most frequently to challenge solar and wind renewable energy projects — precisely the ‘green’ projects that are most critical to meeting California’s climate change reduction mandates.’”
Read the press release from the CEQA Working Group which hits the highlights from the Holland & Knight CEQA study examining 600 CEQA lawsuits.