California construction trade unions continue to protect the environment from the scourges of renewable energy and infill development. A chart below provides examples of their achievements for the planet in 2015.

Meanwhile, 2015 ends with the annual chatter at the state capitol that “maybe next year” will be the year that the California legislature amends the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to end such nonsense. Inspiring this goal for 2016 is an August 2015 study, In the Name of the Environment: Litigation Abuse Under CEQA, which provides new evidence about the distortion of this law by unscrupulous parties.

California’s environmental laws give the public significant authority in ensuring that state agencies and local governments appropriately protect the environment when considering new projects or programs. Allowing the public to play a key role in environmental protection is a check and balance against government ignorance, incompetence, and corruption.

But giving the public a legal role in environmental protection provides a powerful weapon for organizations or individuals who have selfish or ideologicial motivations to prevent construction. It also allows businesses to hinder the growth and prosperity of their competition. And it gives organizations an opportunity to extort private developers and public agencies into making payouts or granting economic concessions that aren’t related to environmental protection. (This practice is sometimes called “greenmail” because it is blackmail using environmental laws.)

The most-feared wielders of California’s environmental laws are labor unions. If you doubt this, note over the years how often corporations and business groups condemn all kinds of CEQA abuse in public without ever mentioning unions as a chief ringleader of the practice. A typical example is this April 15, 2015 op-ed in the San Diego Union-TribuneCEQA Reform: Don’t Allow Gaming of the System.

A deal is announced to end union environmental objections to the Phase 3 construction of the San Diego Convention Center. The project was never built.

A deal is announced to end union environmental objections to the Phase 3 construction of the San Diego Convention Center. The project was never built.

A reader would not learn that one of the most aggressive advocates of union CEQA abuse victimized one of the co-authors of that op-ed with one of the most notorious examples of union CEQA abuse. Read the www.UnionWatch.org story at Finally Got It! Secret Union Deal for San Diego Convention Center.

The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (with its front group California Unions for Reliable Energy, or CURE) remains the primary obstacle to CEQA reform, not environmentalists or even other unions that routinely use CEQA to win concessions. They are the gatekeepers to CEQA exemptions granted for government agencies and private developers. Two kinds of projects have risen above state environmental protection: major league professional sports facilities and high-speed rail. It is not coincidental that construction trade unions have Project Labor Agreements or Project Labor Agreement commitments on such work.

Here’s a chart of construction union activity in 2015 involving the California Environmental Quality Act or the Warren-Alquist Act (for power plant licensing at the California Energy Commission).

 

Construction Union Involvement with California Environmental Laws in 2015

DateProjectGovernmentNature of ObjectionsFront GroupActual PartyLink
September 29, 2015Richmond Solar PV ProjectMarin Clean EnergyObjections to Draft Environmental Impact Report.Bay Area Citizens for Responsible SolarCity of Richmond residents Danael Harris, Quincy Harris, Bryan Hicks and Dennis Hicks, and California Unions for Reliable Energy (“CURE”) and its local union affiliates and their members and families.http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2015-09-29-Adams-Broadwell-Joseph-Cardozo-DEIR-Comments-Richmond-Solar-PV-Project-Marin-Clean-Energy-CCA.pdf
April 22, 2015Sunray Energy - DaggettCounty of San BernardinoObjections to Categorical ExemptionCalifornia Unions for Reliable Energy ("CURE")California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE)http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/2015-04-22-Adams-Broadwell-Joseph-Cardozo-Demand-IS-NMD-or-EIR-on-behalf-of-California-Unions-for-Reliable-Energy-CURE-Sunray-Energy-Daggett-San-Bernardino-County-Letter.pdf
January 13, 2015California Flats Solar ProjectCounty of MontereyObjections to Final Environmental Impact Report.Monterey County Residents for Responsible DevelopmentMonterey County residents, such as Manuel Ramos, Robert Greene, and California Unions for Reliable Energy ("CURE") and its members and their families and other individuals that live and/or work in Monterey County.http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Adams-Broadwell-Joseph-Cardozo-Monterey-County-Residents-for-Responsible-Development-California-Flats-Solar-Project.pdf
April 13, 2015Willow Springs Solar Array ProjectCounty of KernObjections to Draft Environmental Impact Report.Kern County Citizens for Responsible SolarIndividuals (including Rosamont residents Gary Wilcox and Daniel Wilbur, Mojave residents Gaston Moore, Lorreta Moore and Emilio Pino, and Tehachapi residents Josh Hernandez and Neal Herman), and groups, including California Unions for Reliable Energy and its members and their families. http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/2015-04-13-Adams-Broadwell-Joseph-Cardozo-DEIR-Comments-Willow-Springs-Solar-Array-Project-Kern-County.pdf
August 3, 2015Heber 1/Gould 1 Geothermal Expansion ProjectCounty of ImperialObjections to Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration.California Unions for Reliable Energy (“CURE”)California Unions for Reliable Energy (“CURE”)http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2015-08-03-Adams-Broadwell-Joseph-Cardozo-IS-MND-Comments-Ormat-Heber-1-Geothermal-Imperial-County.pdf
October 7, 2015Japantown Corporation Yard Development ProjectCity of San JoseObjections to Rezoning and Addendum to Final Environmental Impact Report.San Jose Residents for Responsible DevelopmentCity of San Jose residents Gil Austin, Jose Lopez, William Serpa, and Kevin Thur; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 332, Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 393, Sheet Metal Workers Local 104, and their members and their families; and other individuals that live and/or work in the City of San Jose and Santa Clara County.http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2015-10-07-Adams-Broadwell-Rezoning-Comments-Japantown-Corporation-Yard-City-of-San-Jose-Letter.pdf
October 19, 2015Cannery Park/Hanover ProjectCity of San JoseObjections to Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration.San Jose Residents for Responsible DevelopmentCity of San Jose residents Karl Baumheckel, Mark Ross and Conrad Pierce; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 332, Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 393, Sheet Metal Workers Local 104, and their members and their families; and other individuals that live and/or work in the City of San Jose and Santa Clara County.http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/2015-10-19-Adams-Broadwell-IS-MND-Comments-Cannery-Park-Hanover-Project-San-Jose.pdf
July 22, 2015Hilltop Apartments ProjectCity of RichmondObjections to project designation as an Infill Development Categorical Exemption.Richmond Residents for Responsible Development Timothy Doyle, Donald Drown, Fynrare Fletcher, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 302, Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 159, Sheet Metal Workers Local 104, and their members and their families who live and/or work in the City of Richmond and Contra Costa County.http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/2015-07-22-Adams-Broadwell-Joseph-Cardozo-Oppose-Infill-CEQA-Exemption-Hilltop-Apartments-City-of-Richmond.pdf
August 5, 2015Master Plan for the Meadows Care Facility at 1800 and 1900 Atrium ParkwayCity of NapaObjections to Design Review Permit and Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration.Napa Residents for Responsible DevelopmentNapa City and County residents and Sheet Metal Workers Local 104, Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 343, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 180, and their members and their families and other individuals that live and/or work in Napa County.http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2015-08-05-Adams-Broadwell-Joseph-Cardozo-Design-Review-Permit-and-IS-MND-Comments-Meadows-Care-Facility-City-of-Napa.pdf
June 10, 2015World Logistics Center ProjectCity of Moreno ValleyObjections to Final Environmental Impact Report.Laborers International Union of North America, Local Union No. 1184 and its members living in Riverside CountyLaborers International Union of North America, Local Union No. 1184 and its members living in Riverside County.http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/2015-06-10-Lozeau-Drury-FEIR-Comments-for-Laborers-World-Logistics-Center-Project-Moreno-Valley.pdf
April 13, 2015820 South Olive StreetCity of Los AngelesObjections to transfer of floor area rights and to variances and concessions.The Coalition for Responsible Equitable Economic Development ("CREED LA")CREED LA's members include the Sheet Metal Workers Local 105, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11, Southern California Pipe Trades District Council 16, and their members and their families who live and work in the City of Los Angeles. Individual members of CREED LA and its member organizations include Thomas Brown, Shomari Davis, Luther Medina, and John Ferruccio, who live, work, recreate and raise their families in Los Angeles.http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2015-04-13-Adams-Broadwell-Joseph-Cardozo-Comment-on-behalf-of-CREED-LA-Onni-820-South-Olive-Street-City-of-Los-Angeles.pdf
February 18, 20156701 Shellmound Street ProjectCity of EmeryvilleObjections to Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration.Emeryville Residents for Responsible DevelopmentIndividuals, including Emeryville residents Alex Bale-Glickman and Roy Blackshire, and Oakland resident, Matthew Spoonhour, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 595 and Sheet Metal Workers Local 104, and their members and their families who live and/or work in the City of Emeryville and Alameda County.http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Adams-Broadwell-Joseph-Cardozo-Emeryville-Residents-for-Responsible-Development-6701-Shellmound.pdf
November 12, 2015Mace Ranch Innovation Center ProjectCity of DavisObjections to Draft Environmental Impact Report.Davis Residents for Responsible DevelopmentPatrick O’Brien, Jorge Gomez, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 340, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 447, Sheet Metal Workers Local 104, and their members and their families who live and/or work in the City of Davis and Yolo County.http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2015-11-12-Adams-Broadwell-DEIR-Comments-Mace-Ranch-Innovation-Center-City-of-Davis.pdf
October 30, 2015Valero Benicia Crude by Rail ProjectCity of BeniciaObjections to Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report.Safe Fuel and Energy Resources California ("SAFER California'')The members represented by the participants in SAFER California live, work, recreate and raise their families in Solano County, including the City of Benicia…The members of SAFER California's participating unions may also work on the Project itself.http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2015-10-30-Adams-Broadwell-Joseph-Cardozo-Comments-on-RDEIR-Valero-Crude-by-Rail-City-of-Benicia.pdf
October 15, 2015Revisions to the 2016 California Plumbing Code to Allow the Use of Perfluoroalkoxy in Dialysis Branch Lines and Plastic Pipe in Plumbing Applications in California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development FacilitiesCalifornia Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD)Objections to Draft Environmental Impact Report.Coalition for Safe Building MaterialsThe California State Pipe Trades Council, California Professional Firefighters, the Center for Environmental Health, and the Joint Committee on Energy and Environmental Policy, among others.http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2015-10-15-Adams-Broadwell-Joseph-Cardozo-DEIR-Comments-Plastic-Pipe-at-OSHPD-Facilities.pdf
20152014/2015 Revisions: Title 20 Commission Process and Procedure RegulationsCalifornia Energy CommissionObjections to proposed regulations that would restrict practices of outside intervenors and the influence of public comment.California Unions for Reliable Energy (“CURE”)California Unions for Reliable Energy (“CURE”)http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2015-Adams-Broadwell-Joseph-Cardozo-Comments-on-behalf-of-California-Unions-for-Reliable-Energy-Proposed-Changes-to-Public-Comment-Regulations-California-Energy-Commission.pdf
February 23, 2015Desert Renewable Energy Conservation PlanCalifornia Energy CommissionObjections to Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement.California Unions for Reliable Energy (“CURE”)A coalition of labor unions…union members live, recreate, and work in the the (sic) Mojave and Colorado/Sonoran desert regions of Southern California.http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2015-02-23-Adams-Broadwell-Joseph-Cardozo-DEIR-Comments-on-behalf-of-California-Unions-for-Reliable-Energy-Desert-Renewable-Energy-Conservation-Plan-California-Energy-Commission.pdf
November 13, 2015Siting Compliance Process Review and Improvement ProceedingCalifornia Energy CommissionObjections to allowing California Energy Commission staff more flexibility to approve project changes without involving the Commission itself.California Unions for Reliable Energy (“CURE”)California Unions for Reliable Energy (“CURE”)http://phonyuniontreehuggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2015-11-13-Adams-Broadwell-Joseph-Cardozo-Comments-on-behalf-of-California-Unions-for-Reliable-Energy-Proposed-Changes-to-Siting-Compliance-Process-California-Energy-Commission.pdf

 


Kevin Dayton is the President & CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC, and is the author of frequent postings about generally unreported California state and local policy issues at www.laborissuessolutions.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

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