Republicans applauded Brown's plans for CEQA, and the governor joked that he had given the GOP "something to clap about."
Meanwhile, Brown reaffirmed his support for the state's planned bullet train and noted plans to begin construction this year on the first leg, from the Central Valley city of Madera to Bakersfield. More than 60 additional miles would take the train through the Tehachapi mountains and eventually to downtown Los Angeles.
The high-speed rail network, along with Brown's plan to refurbish the state's water system with massive 30-mile tunnels, called to mind the bold public-works projects that are the legacy of his father, Gov. Pat Brown.
But they are expensive, siphoning resources that Brown's critics complain could be useful elsewhere. Brown said Thursday he wouldn't be deterred.
Straying from his prepared remarks, he recalled the story of The Little Engine That Could.
"Over the mountain the big train went," he said. "… We're going to get over that mountain."
Times staff writer Patrick McGreevy contributed to this report.