California’s Global Warming Budget Crisis

Curious drama in the California capitol this week, as Republican state senators have refused to approve the proposed budget (already six and a half weeks late)–not because they don’t like the budget, but because they don’t like Attorney General Jerry Brown’s current position that CEQA (California’s environmental review process) must now take into consideration the contribution to global warming of all new local plans and developments. While the impasse seems unlikely to last very much longer, it is worth noting. Republican hold-outs are saying they won’t approve the budget until global warming impacts are exempted from CEQA review. Also at issue are proposed changes to the method of awarding state transportation funds (e.g. SB 375) that would essentially reward regional plans that decrease vehicle miles traveled (the idea evidently being: the less mobility, the less greenhouse gas emissions). The tactics being employed here are questionable, but the characterization by opponents of the move by state Republicans is even more absurd. Consider:

Republicans in the California Senate continue their outrageous demand for major rollbacks to California’s bedrock environmental law as the price of their support for the state budget.

–Bill Allayaud, State Director, Sierra Club California

Republican members of the State Senate (Mr. Maldonado now excepted) are refusing to vote for the budget unless CEQA is gutted, with respect to global warming.

–Gary Patton, Executive Director, Planning and Conservation League