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Poll: Voters divided over easing state's environmental laws

November 16, 2012 |  2:00 pm
California voters are divided over whether the state should overhaul its environmental laws, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

Asked whether lawmakers should change the California Environmental Quality Act by streamlining the environmental review process and limiting lawsuits for new projects, 47% of those surveyed said such changes would be a good idea, while 44% said the law should remain unchanged.

Gov. Jerry Brown and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers have vowed to pursue such changes next year, modifications long sought by business interests and opposed by environmental groups.

In recent years, individual projects such as proposed sports stadiums in Los Angeles and Santa Clara have been fast-tracked by legislators in the closing days of their last two sessions. Now lawmakers are hoping for more far-reaching changes.

Sen. Michael Rubio (D-Shafter) had a CEQA overhaul plan that died late last year. In a recent interview, he said he and Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) have held a series of meetings on the topic over the last three months and plan to introduce legislation early next year to change the law.

Regulatory changes were one of the priorities mentioned by Gov. Jerry Brown last week when he was asked about his plans for the upcoming year. Brown’s former campaign manager is advising a coalition of business groups seeking relaxation of certain environmental rules.

The USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences /Los Angeles Times survey of 1,520 registered voters was conducted from Nov. 7-12. The poll was done by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a Democratic firm, in conjunction with the GOP company American Viewpoint and has a margin of error of 2.9  percentage points.

Look for more poll findings in the coming days.

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-- Anthony York in Sacramento

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