CPUC General Order 170 Redux

CPUC SealWhat agency should evaluate compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) as it applies to telecom firms:  Local governments or the CPUC?  That burning question is at the heart of what agency is best able to protect the public by evaluating CEQA considerations related to telecom construction.

Historically, the California Public Utilities Commission has generally issued blanket CEQA exemptions to telecom firms, without public notice, for project that scope from one street corner to hundreds of miles of construction in the public right of way.

In December 2010, the CPUC issued General Order 170, that purported to grant itself specific rights related to CEQA reviews of telecom projects.  A year later, in December 2011, responding to various petitions for rehearing, the Commission rescinded GO170.

Late today, the Commission issued a ruling (attached at the bottom of this post) to rehear the matter, and to take additional evidence from the public.  The CPUC’s ruling setting a new hearing cycle, albeit it a very short cycle, is attached to this post. The current schedule is at opening responses are due on May 31, 2013, with reply comments due on June 14, 2013. The Commission plans to issue a decision in this case sometime during the Summer of 2013.

If you represent a local government, or you are a citizen with an interest in preserving CEQA review of telecom projects with the local government agency closest to the issues underpinning environmental protection, then you should focus your attention on this proceeding.  The Commission has asked the public to evaluate and respond to five specific questions set out in the document.

I’ll have more on this in the coming days.


CLICK HERE: Order Instituting Rulemaking on the Commission’s own motion into the application of the California Environmental Quality Act to applications of jurisdictional telecommunications utilities for authority to offer service and construct facilities.


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