SB 1136, a measure authored by Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – Pasadena) to clarify and streamline the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process to help meet climate goals, passed the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.
“SB 1136 will eliminate unnecessary layers of environmental review for specific projects without compromising necessary protections and ensure that the state can meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals. It seeks to minimize unnecessary duplication of work and expenses to help California continue to go green,” said Senator Portantino.
“Meeting the state’s ambitious climate goals will take a massive, coordinated effort, as well as significant investment and development. Projects can be weighed down by inconsistencies and administrative delays and this measure will ensure that carbon reduction projects can be built in a streamlined and coordinated fashion.”
CEQA provides a process for evaluating the environmental effects of a project, and includes statutory exemptions, as well as categorical exemptions in its guidelines.
If a project is not exempt from CEQA, an initial study is prepared to determine whether a project may have a significant effect on the environment.
If the initial study shows that there would not be a significant effect on the environment, the lead agency must prepare a negative declaration.
If the initial study shows that the project may have a significant effect on the environment, the lead agency must prepare an environmental impact report (EIR).
Generally, an EIR must accurately describe the proposed project, identify and analyze each significant environmental impact expected to result from the proposed project, identify mitigation measures to reduce those impacts to the extent feasible, and evaluate a range of reasonable alternatives to the proposed project.
SB 1136 would require specified public agencies, including air pollution control districts and air quality management districts, to perform an environmental analysis of the reasonably foreseeable methods of compliance. The bill will expand the types of projects that qualify for a focused environmental impact report and therefore enable rapid investment and a skilled workforce. It will require those projects to comply with certain labor requirements for the use of a focused EIR.
“We were pleased to see SB 1136 move out of Assembly Natural Resources Committee. With this, we are one step closer to having yet another tool to clean up California’s air quality. Working with Senator Portantino and the California Legislature, we are poised to take the steps necessary to meet the climate crisis,” said Andrew Meredith, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California.