Governor Gavin Newsom recently introduced a series of proposals to expedite infrastructure projects. The legislative package seeks to speed up the construction process while also streamlining permitting and court review. An executive order was also signed by the governor, establishing a strike team to accelerate clean energy projects. During a press conference, Newsom said that the action taken is simple, “it’s about saving time, and saving money, and addressing bureaucratic malaise.”
A total of 11 budget trailer bills are being introduced to the Legislature, focusing on eight fundamental principles. A key factor in the proposals is addressing the time-consuming process related to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Legal challenges under CEQA would be limited to 270 to achieve a resolution. The action complements other recent efforts to reform CEQA. Newsom said the reason for approaching the issue with trailer bills is because “people want to see results.”
Infrastructure projects that could be streamlined through the package include the Delta Conveyance Project as well as water storage projects funded through Proposition 1. Newsom specifically highlighted the Sites Reservoir Project as a beneficiary of the reforms included in the trailer bills. Altogether, the proposals could cut project timelines by more than three years, save hundreds of millions of dollars, and simplify paperwork procedures by hundreds of thousands of pages. “Recognizing the sense of urgency,” Newsom said, “we’ve got to do more, and we’ve got to do better.”
Another central focus of the proposals is maximizing federal funding support. Newsom noted that the lengthy process for getting a project moving forward puts California at a disadvantage. Federal money is “going to other states that are moving more aggressively,” Newsom explained. California seeks to invest state and federal funds of up to $180 billion over the next decade in infrastructure projects. “This proposal is the most ambitious effort to cut red tape and streamline regulations in half a century. It’s time to make the most out of taxpayer dollars and deliver results,” Newsom said in a press release.