Environmental Groups, Public Agencies Battle Over Costs
Professor Deborah A. Sivas is quoted in the following article by Fiona Smith of the Daily Journal on the state legislature's intent behind the California Environmental Quality Act.
Community and environmental groups concerned over the impacts of housing developments, power plants and other projects are locked in more battles with public agencies over litigation costs - fights their attorneys say threaten their ability to keep citizen lawsuits alive.
The disputes center on how much groups should pay for the work of compiling and indexing the administrative record in lawsuits they file against agencies under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.
The state legislature intended CEQA to have a strong citizen enforcement mechanism and to control costs for groups bringing suits, said Deborah A. Sivas, director of Stanford Law School's environmental law clinic and a CEQA litigator.
If agencies followed requirements to keep CEQA documents organized in the first place, it would take very little time and effort to provide them, Sivas said.
Stanford's Sivas and other petitioner attorneys worry that if these charges are allowed it will encourage agencies to drive up record costs and chill CEQA litigation.