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Schwarzenegger to Ditch Environmental Protection

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California Governor to Ditch Environmental Protection

Gov. 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 debt-ridden state.

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.


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