California Performance Review for Geologists

In keeping with my emergent desire for political activity on those narrowly tailored local and technical matters where I feel I can be most effective, I bring you an entry of extremely limited interest – but there might plausibly be one or two California geologists lurking among you Gentle Readers. California non-geologists and googlebots may be interested as well; I’m pulling in a bunch of environmental permitting issues here that are, at best, only tangentially related to the geohydro-EIR parts of my job.

An incomplete list, with opinions where I have them (I mostly don’t but I’m trying to acquire some):

  • Merge the State Mining and Geology Board with the Board of Geologists and Geophysicists – the BGG governs professional licensing for earth scientists; the SMGB represents the state’s interest in geologic hazards, mineral resources, and reclaimed mines.
  • Eliminate the Integrated Waste Management Board’s landfill permit veto power
  • Adopt Pending CEQA Guidelines – the current CEQA guidelines make heavy use of the word “significant”. This word is of absolutely no use to technical sub-sub-consultants such as myself. We can say with confidence that a project will result in a reduction of 297 acre-feet of aquifer recharge annually, but when asked to provide a “threshold of significance” to evaluate that reduction, we just burble our lips and ask our magic 8-ball.

    These thresholds should be established on a regional basis by basin watermasters and regional water quality boards, not on a case-by-case basis by the technical consultants on individual project EIRs. They should be well publicized, for use by EIR-writers and for public scrutiny. They should be, but in many cases, they aren’t (I’m looking at you, Orange County).

    So now that I’ve had my rant… I actually have no idea what the proposed new guidelines will do to address my pet peeves. I’ll get back to y’all on that, maybe.

  • Emasculate the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission – it appears, from the summary, that this commission is generally less friendly towards developers (a.k.a. sand mines) than the various regulatory agencies whose function it duplicates. Moreover, I’m fundamentally sympathetic to organizing environmental and planning functions by region, rather than by area of technical expertise. I’d be sorry to see this proposal adopted.

After reading through just this small amount of the report, I’m sickened by the way it continually refers to “project opponents” as a force to be sidelined and disempowered whenever possible. When did “economic development” become a synonym for “unarguably good project no matter what those silly environmental and community activists think”? Sigh.

Feedback on the California Performance Review can be sent from here.

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