CUTTING GREEN TAPE, SB 155, AND 30 BY 30 - INITIATIVES TO STREAMLINE AND INCREASE RESTORATION EFFORTS
|Kathleen R Cuschieri; Ascent Environmental; Kathleen.Cuschieri@ascentenvironmental.com; Curtis Alling|
California is known for strong laws that protect the environment from the adverse effects of development and resource extraction. However, the laws designed to protect natural resources can unintentionally slow down beneficial ecosystem restoration projects. The state has undertaken innovative initiatives to streamline environmental review and increase the pace and scale of ecosystem restoration. The Cutting Green Tape initiative (CGT) focuses on improving interagency coordination, partnerships, and agency processes to allow ecological restoration to occur more quickly, simply, and cost-effectively. Governor Newsom underscored the importance of this initiative by committing California to achieve conservation of 30 percent of the state’s land and water by 2030, part of the national movement called “30 by 30”. Also, SB 155 was enacted in 2021 to create a new statutory exemption for qualifying, biodiversity-beneficial restoration projects. To advance CGT, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is developing strategies to incorporate environmental review and project approval efficiencies into its grant and permitting programs. Ascent worked with CDFW to assess options to streamline CEQA compliance including the preparation of Program EIRs and a within-the-scope approval process, proposals for new or modified statutory or categorical exemptions, and the consideration of a certified CEQA regulatory program.