The loss of state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, as the chairman of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee is "an absolute travesty," Rod Diridon, president of the Santa Clara Valley League of Conservation Voters, said Friday.
Simitian was removed from the committee chairmanship by Sen. President pro Tem Don Perata after a heated budget debate at a committee meeting Thursday night. The committee meeting was described by one senator as "raucous."
Diridon said that Simitian was named "environmentalist of the year a few years ago" by his group.
"He understands the issues of rcycling, wetlands and transportation," Diridon said.
"We're disappointed," Rob Rennie of the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club said.
"Joe Simitian was a very strong supporter on environemntal issues. He will have less leverage" after losing his committee chairmanship.
"Sen. Simitian had done a lot of good work on environmental issues," Brian Schmidt of the Committee for Green Foothills said.
"Not having him in that position could be problematic."
"Clearly, Sen. Simitian has been excellent on environmental issues and a strong friend to us," Susan Smartt, executive director of the California League of Conservation Voters, said.
Simitian authored or co-authored 23 bills on environmental issues while he was a state Assemblyman and has authored or co-authored 26 environmental bills since he was elected to the state Senate in late 2004.
His more recent environmental bills included legislation affecting renewable energy, environmental education, the Toxic Free Oceans Act of 2007, delta water and related issues. He has also authored legislation regulating discharges from cruise ships and other ocean vessels.
Neither Simitian nor Perata could be reached for comment on Simitian's removal from the chairmanship.
A member of Simitian's staff said the senator doesn't comment on committee assignments, while Andrew LaMar, a spokesman for Perata, said the senator "does not comment on (Democratic Party) caucus" matters.