Study finds that vast majority of state projects are exempted from CEQA

Dec. 14, 2017 - Forget the misinformation you’ve heard about how California’s landmark environmental law holds up economic progress. It doesn’t, and now there’s another new study out to prove it.

Last week, the state Senate Environmental Quality Committee released a survey showing that 90 percent of projects overseen by state agencies were exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act.

Furthermore, only 1 percent of the 15,700 state projects overseen by 47 agencies in the four-year survey conducted through the 2015-16 fiscal year ever resulted in litigation.

These are numbers that dispel the notion that CEQA, California's principal environmental law signed in 1970 by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, presents some kind of insurmountable barrier to anything ever getting built.

“This is important information by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee stating what has been proven by countless studies before it,” said Robbie Hunter, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council. “CEQA is not an impediment to moving forward with important infrastructure projects and other projects that California needs for continued economic development and job creation. CEQA takes into consideration where we build and what is being built, as well as the safety and health of the construction workers and the impact on the communities while construction on projects moves forward.”

The committee’s study complements the 2013 research by University of Utah economics professor Peter Philips that similarly found no harm resulting from the environmental law. Philips’ study found that since the enactment of CEQA in 1970, California increased its percentage of all U.S. manufacturing, the state’s real per capita growth has exceeded the nation’s, and that new power plants were far more likely to get approved and built here than in the rest of the country.

Sen. Bob Wieckowski, the environmental committee chair, said in a press statement that the survey shows the environmental law is “doing what Governor Reagan and the Legislature hoped it would do when they passed it in 1970 – providing transparency, accountability and reducing harmful impacts to our environment as we undertake important projects to enhance our state.”

“Whether it is Caltrans, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Department of Parks and Recreation, or regional water quality control boards, projects are being reviewed through an environmental lens and CEQA is not a significant burden,” Wieckowski added.  

We encourage you to discuss this study with the Legislators from your area or with other elected leaders in order to keep them informed about proven facts regarding CEQA. 

You can read the whole survey here: http://senv.senate.ca.gov/sites/senv.senate.ca.gov/files/ceqa_survey_full_report_-_final_12-5-17.pdf

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