Update on CEQA and Budget Trailers

Restore the Delta has been tracking what is happening in Sacramento with the aid of several partner organizations. Language and bills have evolved. Here is what we have learned.
Thanks to leadership in both the State Assembly and Senate, they have curtailed the Newsom Administration’s efforts to loosen up CEQA requirements for Delta tunnel construction. We are grateful to the California Legislature for putting up these guard rails.
The CEQA provision in the trailer bill could apply to the adoption of regulations by state agencies to large-scale habitat restoration projects. The new adopted language makes clear that the CEQA exemption “does not apply to a project that includes construction activities, except for construction activities solely related to habitat restoration.”  In addition, the trailer bill requires that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director’s decision to invoke the exemption be based on the best available science and supported by substantial evidence, indicating that such determinations by the Director can be challenged in litigation.
Our profound disappointment in the Newsom administration grows by the hour as they shove through funding for their voluntary agreement process for managing Delta flows, rather than implementing the Bay-Delta Plan, when they have FAILED to consult with Delta environmental justice communities, Northern California tribes – all while harmful algal blooms filled with toxic cyanobacteria continue to expand from stagnant water waters and pollution. 
In terms of the funding portion of the bill trailers:  

  • There’s $40 million in Section 10 of SB 170 that can be used for Voluntary Agreements;  
  • There’s an additional $125 million for Voluntary Agreements in Section 11 of the bill, in addition to the $40 million in Section 10;
  • There’s an additional $100 million to buy Delta outflow for Voluntary Agreements in section 44;
  • And there’s even more money identified in FY 22-23 budget for this stuff.  

At this point, we are unsure if this language can be changed. 

But it is time, to let Governor Newsom’s team know what you think about the State Water Quality Control Board buying flows from water right holders when they have failed to implement the Bay-Delta Plan.  

It is time to let Governor Newsom know what you think of him cutting off environmental justice communities throughout Northern California from being part of this water planning process. It’s time to let him know that following the science not only applies to COVID management, but also water management in the era of significant climate change impacts.

Contact Governor Newsom’s office: 

  • Via Email: Through his website, scroll down to the email submission form. 
  • Via Phone: (916) 445-2841
  • Via Twitter: @CAGovernor

Yours in action,
Restore the Delta

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