Governor Newsom Subverts CEQA to Jam Through Environmentally Destructive Sites Reservoir Project


November 6, 2023

Contact: Michael Blenner,


Governor Newsom Subverts CEQA to Jam Through Environmentally Destructive Sites Reservoir Project


Sacramento, CA - Today, Governor Newsom certified the environmentally destructive Sites Reservoir project for judicial streamlining under Senate Bill 149. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee will have 30 days to concur in the Governor’s recommendation, or prevent this project from being inappropriately streamlined.  

Sites Reservoir would be  a new off-stream reservoir that diverts water from the Sacramento River, one of the main tributaries to the San Francisco Bay-Delta. The Bay-Delta ecosystem is in decline due to decades of unsustainable water diversions. The State Water Board is currently moving forward with updates to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan that could provide increased freshwater flows to address long-standing challenges with water quality, salinity, harmful algal blooms, and support the needs of imperiled fish and wildlife. Instead of ensuring Sites is in compliance with the most updated regulations, the Governor has decided to fast-track this project when it is unclear at best whether water is going to be available for diversion.

SB 149 (2023) was part of the package of infrastructure streamlining legislation that the Governor jammed through the legislature earlier this year. Sierra Club California joined a broad coalition of organizations in opposition to the Governor’s proposal, which made significant changes to key environmental laws that protect wildlife, facilitate public transparency, and hold agencies accountable through the judicial review process. 

Statement from Erin Woolley, Senior Policy Strategist:

The environmentally destructive Sites Reservoir project should not be eligible for certification under the new infrastructure streamlining law. Building new dams and reservoirs is an idea of the past, and perpetuates the very challenges we need to address. California must do more to address long-standing water management challenges at the local level and ensure that all Californians have access to clean, affordable drinking water.   The Legislature must take a critical eye to this proposal and ensure that the limitations built into SB 149 are meaningfully applied. 



Sierra Club California is the legislative and regulatory arm of Sierra Club’s 13 local chapters in California, representing half a million members and supporters.