When one thinks about the debate over how to address the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in California, it is often characterized as business interests versus environmentalists.
But that doesn’t nearly define it.
At the recent Planning and Conservation League meeting in Sacramento, we ran into James Araby, a leader of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which has some 200,000 members in the western states. His workers are employed mostly in the food business, although there is a contingent of health care workers that UFCW represents.
Araby and his union fought attempts to “gut” (his terminology) CEQA at the end of the 2012 California legislative session.
Araby said for him and other labor leaders, there is an understanding that jobs and the environment can’t really be separated. In fact, he doesn’t think the discussion should be just about CEQA, but rather should concentrate on an approach that envelopes environmental, social and economic aspects in California:
Araby thinks this is the right time to being having this discussion. He said that fear of the economic downturn has begun to ebb and, as a result, people are focused and even a bit more optimistic about the future of California.
CEQA in the 21st Century — a series of news stories and individual perspectives designed to educate and spark dialogue on CEQA as the California Legislature revisits the role the environmental law will play in the future of our economy.