Top 4 Takeaways: Governor Newsom’s Proposals to Build More, Faster Heard in the Legislature


SACRAMENTO – This week, Governor Gavin Newsom’s ambitious infrastructure permitting and project review reforms to build California’s climate resilient future were heard by both the Assembly and Senate.

The Administration made a clear case: without reforms, California will risk funding for critical infrastructure like safe drinking water and clean energy.

Here’s U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm in California yesterday discussing the need for permitting reform:

“A lot of environmental activists have used these [environmental] laws, of course, to protect the environment, and used it for the purposes of delay. But now we know what has to happen… We spent $165 billion as a nation last year just cleaning up after these extreme weather events, it is on our doorstep, so we can no longer delay. The very environmental species that we are seeking to protect with these laws are going to be damaged by climate change if we do not act with alacrity. So, bottom line is: I think every state including California — and the federal government, have to get our act together to realize that you will protect the environment if you act on climate.”

Here are the top 4 takeaways from the four legislative hearings:


“The proposals that the Governor brings forward, we don’t bring forward lightly into the budget process but because we have to take action now,” said California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot. “It is reasonable for us to expect that the more punishing drought is just around the corner or the more damaging flood or the more destructive wildfire. From our perspective, this isn’t the case of reforming our systems over years or months, the urgency we bring to this is weeks.”

“Whether it’s housing, whether it’s transportation, whether it’s public works, whether it’s critical water infrastructure, whether it’s renewable energy – almost all of that is going to run through our department for some permitting purpose,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Chuck Bonham. “Every day we delay permitting renewable energy projects is compounding our ability to achieve our goals.”

“We’re in strong support because water and other infrastructure upgrades are urgently needed,” said California Chamber of Commerce Policy Advocate Brenda Bass. “Projects like canal repairs, water treatment facilities, water storage options, groundwater recharge projects will all benefit from streamlining. Projects need to move in a timely manner to save taxpayer dollars.”


“Over the next decade the state will have the opportunity to invest $180 billion over the next 10-years and create as many as 400,000 jobs across the state – a level of construction and investment not seen since the Governor Pat Brown era,” said Senior Counselor to the Governor on Infrastructure and Clean Energy Finance Gayle Miller. “These bills will in fact make a difference as to the timing and delivery of projects—we have seen the broadband planning and delivery decrease from 33 to 11 months by implementing many of the proposals you will see here today.”

“The Governor’s infrastructure package represents another ambitious effort and aims to maximize taxpayer dollars and deliver results while creating hundreds of thousands of good jobs and working towards achieving California’s world-leading climate goals. This package would expedite a number of transportation projects, from routine highway maintenance and safety projects to innovative and complex transportation improvements that take years,” said California State Transportation Agency Secretary Toks Omishakin. “Contracting out more quickly accelerates projects, shows the state’s readiness and makes them more competitive for federal grant funding through notices of funding opportunity.”


“We represent 70,000 hardworking men and women in California and when we build these construction projects in California, we pull people of color, women, and second chancers into the middle class,” said California State Council of Laborers Executive Director Joe Cruz. “We need to accommodate all new growth, we need to accommodate big projects that keep our state competitive, but more importantly we got to change people’s lives and we want the opportunity to talk about what those projects mean to everyday people.”

“Infrastructure is actually the fabric that holds us together. Right now, California’s infrastructure is broken, which includes roads, highways, water, bridges, energy – and of course, the human element of our workforce, which is not to be understated in the infrastructure discussion,” said California Manufacturers and Technology President and CEO Lance Hastings. “We really are at that tipping point and if federal dollars are going to be the thing that brings us all together, we can’t underestimate that.”


“Housing is a crisis and that’s where we are with climate – and you have to stop letting perfect be the enemy of good,” said Scott Wetch, on behalf of the State Association of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the California State Pipe Trades Council, the Western State Council of Sheetmetal Workers, California Coalition of Utility Employees and the Elevator Constructors Union. “This is an opportunity that you cannot fumble so we would absolutely urge your aye vote.”

“We believe this is just the first step and more reforms are needed on the front and back end of CEQA including local land use constraints to get us to 86 gigawatts of clean energy online by 2045 to meet our climate and energy goals,” said Cara Martinson, on behalf of Large Scale Solar Association. “We share the sense of urgency and believe projects that reduce GHG emissions should be expedited.”