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CAP1NEW.JPG.JPGThe battle lines are being drawn in the upcoming legislative fight over California's environmental review laws.

More than a dozen environmental, labor and social justice groups announced Wednesday that they are joining forces to oppose an expected push to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act.

Members pledged to fight "radical reforms that would limit public input into land use planning, threaten public health, and weaken environmental protections."

The group, CEQA Works, includes the California League of Conservation Voters, Planning and Conservation League, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club California, the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, State Building and Construction Trades Council, United Food & Commercial Workers and the League of Women Voters of California.

"Our state's residents rely on the California Environmental Quality Act to protect the things they hold most dear: clean air, clean water, and the opportunity to have their say in planning decisions," Bruce Reznik, executive director of the Planning and Conservation League, said in a prepared statement. "This landmark environmental quality law provides critical protections that enhance our quality of life and protect our natural resources."

CEQA is expected to be a hot issue under the dome this year, as Democratic Sen. Michael Rubio, who chairs the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, and a coalition made up mostly of business interests and local governments renew a push to update the law. An effort staged at the end of last session was canned amid pressure from Democratic legislators and environmental groups. This year, Rubio and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg are trying to reach an agreement on changes. The two staged a series of "working group" meetings with stakeholders after last year's session ended.

PHOTO CREDIT: Bee file photo of the state Capitol building. Photo by Rob Ferris.



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