Tuesday, July 25, 2017, Noon to 1:00pm, California’s Maligned Environmental Law:
An Overview of the California Environmental Quality Act, its Public Impression, and its Ongoing Importance, with a Focus on Large-Scale (and Controversial) Projects
Tom Engels, PhD, Principal, Horizon Water & Environment
Rob Peterson, PhD, CEQA Project Manager, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)
Jonathan Koltz, Legal Counsel, CPUC
1 hour free Participatory MCLE Credit
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is California’s premier environmental law, and a model for similar laws across the country. Although it’s revered by many, it’s also often derided as a boondoggle that gives undue leverage to NIMBYs and special interest groups. Governor Brown, for example, has called attempts to ease its restrictions “the Lord’s work.” CEQA requires consideration of environmental impact on the development of “projects,” and requires the consideration and screening of a wide range of alternatives. It has been controversially invoked as a drag in a wide range of situations, from creating new bike lanes to building large-scale utility projects.
In this hour-long program, Tom Engels, PhD, a principal at Horizon Water and Environment; Rob Peterson, PhD, a CEQA project manager at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC); and Jonathan Koltz, a lawyer with the CPUC, will provide a brief overview of the CEQA process, discuss why CEQA’s policy goals can be poorly perceived—and why those perceptions might not be entirely accurate—and explain why CEQA remains a vital tool for informing both the government and the public about the projects subject to the law. They will provide examples from their work at the CPUC, with a focus on how staff have approached the complex process of reviewing, and finding alternatives for, large utility infrastructure projects with price tags that typically exceed $100 million and that affect thousands of Californians.