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Governor Brown Takes on Green Sacred Cow

After butting heads with public sector unions over California’s pensions crisis (and mostly losing), Governor Brown is confronting another major Democratic backer: greens.

As the New York Times notes, California’s Environmental Quality Act, which obliges developers, governments, and businesses to minimize the environmental impact of their projects, is one of the oldest and strongest green laws on the books. The law has racked up years of construction delays and thousands of lost jobs. Environmental impact lawsuits have delayed everything from bike lanes and gas pumps to major construction projects, and they’re often used by rival companies to shut down the competition and drive up costs.

The Chamber of Commerce is currently renewing its drive to alter the law, and Governor Brown—along with at least a few other Democrats—appears to be on board:

Gov. Jerry Brown declared that overhauling the law was “the Lord’s work,” and in just the last several weeks, some of the state’s highest-ranking Democrats have lined up in support of fundamental changes to the act, including the leaders of both houses of the State Legislature.

Given the current state of California’s economy, the state desperately needs to find ways to make it easier for businesses to operate and create jobs. Doing that may require him and his fellow Democratic politicians to take on their traditional bases of political and financial support, and they’ll have to show a lot more fortitude than they have shown so far in the pension fight.

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