Senator Michael Rubio’s sudden resignation to take a job with the Chevron Corporation on the day Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg released his CEQA “reforms” made the timing of Rubio’s announcement very interesting. Rubio had been selected by Steinberg to chair the Senate Environmental Quality Committee and take the lead on CEQA reforms.
Governor Jerry Brown has highlighted CEQA changes as important steps to improve California’s business climate. Rubio had previously offered legislation to address regulations under the environmental law that slows development and makes certain energy production, such as oil drilling, more difficult and costly.
Rubio announced he was taking the Chevron job to provide more long-term security for his family as well as having more time to spend with the family. Both legitimate and proper reasons to step down.
Later in the day Friday, Steinberg released his outline for CEQA changes — an outline of intent rather than specifics – that did not include some of the comprehensive changes Rubio had sought in the past. Press accounts termed the Steinberg proposals as “modest.”
The environmental community has been coordinating efforts to campaign against CEQA reforms. One has to wonder if pressure from environmentalists was successful in limiting the senate proposals and frustrating Rubio’s desire to achieve substantial reform. Did the senate leader suggest that Rubio’s reform efforts must be limited?
Seeing the handwriting on the wall, did Rubio decide to jump ship before he is pushed aside?
The question now for the business community: will there be a legislative leader to join forces with the governor to achieve needed reforms to CEQA?