Senator Cannella Introduces Bill to Protect Environmentally Responsible, Shovel-Ready Projects from Frivolous Lawsuits

Thursday, February 10, 2011

State Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) today introduced Senate Bill 241 creating a pilot project to protect 25 environmentally responsible, job-creating construction projects from frivolous lawsuits every year.

“With unemployment still at near-record levels, Californians need jobs more than ever,” said Sen. Cannella. “My bill will help put Californians to work in well-paying jobs as soon as possible, while still maintaining our commitment to protecting the environment.”

Every year, job-creating construction projects are stalled due to abusive applications of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – even after the projects have successfully completed an environmental impact report (EIR) or are declared environmentally responsible. This litigation not only hampers the projects’ ability to hire new workers, but the high costs associated with such delays dampen their potential to stimulate growth through investments in the local economy.

Called the CEQA Litigation Protection Pilot Program of 2011, SB 241 directs the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency to designate 25 shovel-ready projects every year to be protected from litigation after successfully completing an EIR or being declared environmentally responsible. In particular, the selection process will take into consideration the number and quality of jobs that will be created by each project.

“California’s construction industry lost thousands of jobs in December alone,” Cannella continued. “Clearly, the need for swift action to get our economy moving again is urgent. This bill will help job-creating projects move forward in a timely fashion so that ground can be broken and Californians can get back to work sooner.”

Of the 25 projects selected, ten will be located in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino or San Diego Counties; five will be located in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Solano or Sonoma Counties; five will be located in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Monterey, Sacramento, San Benito, San Joaquin, Stanislaus or Tulare Counties. The remaining five projects will be located in the rest of the state.