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Why Unions Oppose Overhauling CEQA

A coalition of advocacy groups is calling on California lawmakers to leave the state’s landmark environmental law alone. That coalition includes labor unions – even though development projects governed by the California Environmental Quality Act create construction jobs.

Aired 3/13/13 on KPBS News.

Labor unions have joined a coalition of advocacy groups lobbying against changes they say would weaken the California Environmental Quality Act. Unions argue they're protecting their workers and communities; critics say unions use CEQA as leverage.

Labor leaders said unions must be environmentalists – to protect their workers and communities. And Robbie Hunter with the State Building Trades of California said CEQA has not slowed construction projects down:

“It has forced people to look at a project in more of a critical eye and adjust it – which has often made it more streamlined.”

But Republican State Senator Tom Berryhill said unions – and developers – use the threat of a CEQA lawsuit as a negotiating tactic:

“They both use CEQA as leverage points to get better deals. And they’ll hold this stuff up until all of a sudden, they have to meet their demands.”

Lawmakers will decide whether to make any CEQA changes later this year.

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