Jul 12 • 43M

Jennifer Hernandez | Podcast

Are Environmental Laws Undermining Environmental, Social, and Economic Progress?

Open in playerListen on);
The Serve to Lead podcast focuses on today’s extraordinary leadership opportunities in business, government, and politics. In a time of intense polarization, this includes advancing our shared American identity and narrative. James Strock is an independent writer, speaker, entrepreneur, lawyer, and reformer. His most recent book is 'Serve to Lead 2.0: 21st Century Leaders Manual.' Strock writes ‘The Next Nationalism’ at Substack.
Episode details

Landmark environmental statutes of the past half-century are in the news—but in a way few might have anticipated: They stand accused of becoming impediments to effective governance, including environmental protection.

In Washington, D.C., Senator Joe Manchin is leading congressional efforts to ensure that infrastructure improvement and electrification of the grid are not stymied by permitting delays.

In Sacramento, California Governor Gavin Newsom, recognizing the same problem, is tussling with legislators to cut permitting delays that imperil priority projects in housing and climate.

In this episode of the Serve to Lead podcast, noted environmental lawyer Jennifer Hernandez illuminates the stakes—and proposes common-sense reforms.

The Next Nationalism is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a paid subscriber.

Are Environmental Laws Undermining Environmental, Social, and Economic Priorities?

Jennifer Hernandez is uniquely placed to evaluate the real-world performance of our environmental laws.

With her Holland and Knight law firm colleagues David Friedman and Stephanie DeHerrara, Hernandez has written a well-researched, comprehensive study: In the Name of the Environment: How Litigation Abuse Under the California Environmental Quality Act Undermines California’s Environmental, Social Equity and Economic Priorities—and Proposed Reforms to Protect the Environment from CEQA Litigation Abuse.

The topic might appear abstruse and academic, but it’s not.

The question of permitting is important—and touches nearly every neighborhood, community, and the range of critical infrastructure.

The question of permitting is important—and touches nearly every neighborhood, community, and the range of critical infrastructure.

Hernandez makes a compelling case for reform. In this discussion she focuses on two environmental statutes from the mid-twentieth century—the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

These landmark environmental laws have performed a tremendous service, filling a historic gap in governance. NEPA and CEQA mandate that environmental costs and consequences be incorporated into deliberations of government action.

Unfortunately, good intentions have not been enough to overcome the temptation and tendency of lawyers and sophisticated incumbents to game government bureaucracies over time.

In all too many situations, NEPA and CEQA have become vectors of self-serving actions and abuse.

In all too many situations, NEPA and CEQA have become vectors of self-serving actions and abuse.

Hernandez calls for a mend-it-don’t-end-it approach.

About Jennifer Hernandez

Jennifer Hernandez is a widely respected practitioner and thought-leader in environmental and land-use law. She has first-hand experience with California governance relating to energy, housing, and transportation.

Hernandez has practiced land use and environmental law over the course of four decades, and leads Holland & Knight’s West Coast Land Use and Environmental Group. She divides her time between the firm’s San Francisco and Los Angeles offices.

Hernandez is the only California lawyer ranked by her clients and peers in Chambers USA in the top tier of both land use/zoning and environmental lawyers. She was recognized as the top environmental litigator of the year in the San Francisco Bay Area by Best Lawyers, and received a California Lawyer of the Year award from the State Bar of California for her work on California’s largest and most innovative land use and conservation agreement between her private landowner client and five major environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council. She has received numerous civil rights awards for her work on overcoming environmental group opposition to housing and other projects needed and supported by minority communities.

During his tenure as mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown designated October 9, 2002, as “Jennifer Hernandez Day” in honor of her work as a “warrior on the Brownfields” to restore and redevelop former industrial lands. She is the longest-serving minority board member—23 years—of the California League of Conservation Voters; was appointed by President Clinton to serve as a trustee for the Presidio National Park in San Francisco; and serves on the board of directors for California Forward, as well as Sustainable Conservation.

Hernandez works for private sector, public agency and nonprofit clients on a broad range of projects in Bay Area, Southern California and Central Valley communities, including infill and master-planned mixed-use housing and commercial projects, university and research facilities, transportation and infrastructure projects, renewable and other energy projects, and local agency plan and ordinance updates. She has written three books, and more than 50 articles, on environmental and land-use topics, and regularly teaches land-use, environmental and climate law in law and business schools, colleges and seminars. She also serves on her law firm’s Directors Committee and received the firm’s highest honor—the Chesterfield Smith Award—for her community service.

Jennifer Hernandez graduated with honors from Harvard University and Stanford Law School, and clerked for Region 20 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) before beginning her land-use and environmental law career. She is the daughter and granddaughter of steelworkers and was raised in Pittsburg, California. She and her husband live in Berkeley and Los Angeles.

Share The Next Nationalism

Image Credit | Holland & Knight LLP.