Bill to boost L.A. stadium project clears Assembly committees

A bill to expedite legal and environmental challenges to a proposed football stadium in downtown Los Angeles cleared two key legislative committees Tuesday and could be taken up by the full California Assembly on Wednesday.

"The ball is in our possession and we're beginning to march down the field," state Sen. Alex Padilla, who authored the bill, told ESPN. "We got a couple of big first downs today. The next step will be tomorrow when the full assembly votes on the bill and if they vote to move the bill out of assembly, which we expect them to, that's basically taking the ball past the 50-yard line and then we're marching towards the red zone and hopefully in the end zone by the end of the week."

Assembly committees on natural resources and appropriations both voted in favor of Senate Bill 292. The bill would not exempt Farmers Field, Anschutz Entertainment Group's $1.2 billion proposed football stadium next to Staples Center, from environmental laws, but would allow legal challenges to be heard immediately in the California Court of Appeal, which would then come to a decision within 175 days. The expedited process would bypass the Superior Court and potentially avoid protracted litigation.

Two environmental groups that had opposed the bill when it was introduced Friday came out in favor of it on Tuesday, reported ProFootballTalk.com.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and the California League of Conservation Voters apparently were swayed after AEG pledged to build a carbon-neutral stadium with more public transit users than any other stadium in the country.

Even if the bill passes the Assembly, it must still pass the state Senate and be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The AEG project is one of two competing plans to build an NFL stadium in the Los Angeles area. Real estate magnate Ed Roski Jr. wants to build a stadium in City of Industry, and secured an exemption to the California Environmental Quality Act in 2009. The ruling exempts Roski's project from state environmental laws and protects it from environmental lawsuits.

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