When then-Gov. Ronald Reagan signed into law the California Environmental Quality Act in 1970, he and its authors could not have foreseen what the landmark legislation would become decades later: a law stretched so far beyond its original intent that it threatens to turn the Golden State’s economy to lead.

Though conceived as a limited set of rules requiring state and local agencies to identify and study the environmental impacts of their actions and to put in place measures — if feasible — to reduce those impacts, CEQA today is widely used and abused to stall and ultimately thwart public infrastructure projects and private-sector developments, often for entirely non-environmental reasons.

For instance, labor organizations use CEQA litigation to extract wage-and-work-rule agreements from private developers and public agencies. In the private sector, business interests deploy CEQA challenges to derail the projects of their competitors.

Increasingly, California’s deepening housing crisis can be attributed to CEQA litigation abuse.

A 2015 report on the problem, from the Los Angeles office of Holland & Knight, an international law firm, concluded that “the largest single target of CEQA lawsuits … are residential projects” and that these projects “overwhelmingly” involve “non-polluting land uses.” Abuse of the law, the report concluded, has many guises, including duplicative lawsuits that hamstring projects for years and NIMBY resistance mounted by Citizens for This or That, local groups with little or no interest in the environmental issues the law was supposed to address.

CEQA reform that faces down special interests, local agitators and organized labor is crucial for California’s economic future.

To read more please go here.

Originally published at the Los Angeles Times.