California Governor to Ditch Environmental Protection
Arnold Schwarzenegger, desperate to improve a worsening budget
crisis, demands that long-standing environmental
protections be removed in an effort to conserve cash in the
Protections would also be lifted on a freeway-widening
project through an ecologically sensitive area of coastal San
Diego County and on a controversial plan to drill a tunnel into
the Berkeley Hills. And Schwarzenegger wants to empower a panel
of his appointees to waive environmental rules on other projects.
This is the same leader who, as part of his 2008-09 budget proposal,
advocated closing 48 state parks and reducing lifeguard staffing
at 16 state beaches. Schwarzenegger also supported the now-dead
proposal to erect a toll road through San Onofre State Beach.
These are desperate times, sure, but why must the governator always
turn his bazookas on the environment as a route toward financial
salvation? The latest plan, as outlined in an L.A. Times story
on Sunday, essentially would exempt the projects from the California
Environmental Quality Act of 1970.
Some of the projects could harm endangered species. Others might
significantly add to greenhouse gases, while others may simply
jeopardize environmentally sensitive areas.
Environmental safeguards must not be swept aside merely because
the state can't balance its budget. Imagine the precedent that
would set. To foster his agenda, Schwarzenegger has even sent a
letter to Barack Obama asking that the environmental reviews be
waived on the highway projects.