Tribal gaming sites exempt from environmental review in California

By Louis Thompsett

Specific tribal gaming projects have now been made exempt from review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 

The bill, first introduced by state Senator Melissa Hurtado, was passed into law by California’s Governor Gavin Newsom. 

Titled Senate Bill 900, the bill was co-authored by Assemblyman Rudy Salas, and was introduced to ratify gaming compacts between the state and two tribal groups; the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe and the Middletown Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians.  

The bill can classify both tribes as exempt by defining them as non-projects for the CEQA. Usually, development projects undergo thorough environmental reviews which can invite public scrutiny.  

Hurtado’s office released a news release, making no mention of the CEQA exemption. 

It read: “For decades the Tachi Yokut Tribe has been a valuable partner in the Kings County Community. 

“The tribe provides scholarship assistance, job training and adult education programs, health and welfare assistance and other social services. I am pleased that the Tachi Yokut Tribe will receive the recognition they deserve.” 

The Chairman of the Tachi Yokut tribe, Leo Sisco, thanked Hurtado: “On behalf of the Tachi Yokut Tribe, I would like to thank Gov. Newsom and Sen. Hurtado for leading the effort to pass our tribal-state to gaming compact. 

“We are pleased to continue our role as a positive economic force in the local community while maintaining the important opportunities and resources for our members, many of which are made possible by our gaming enterprise.” 



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