That more typical and regulatory approach is emphatically not the way that CEQA is intended to work, and current attacks on CEQA, in the California State Legislature, are making use of this misunderstanding. CEQA opponents have couched their opposition to CEQA in terms of "reforming," or "modernizing," or "updating" the law (all of which sound quite reasonable), and they are criticizing CEQA because it leads to "delays" in the decision making process. Another ground of attack is that CEQA is no longer needed, since lots of laws to protect the environment have been passed since CEQA was first enacted. Because that is true, CEQA is now supposedly outdated and unnecessary.
In what way was Socrates (the great philosopher) like a "stinging ray?" According to the article linked above, it is the "paralysis" that occurs when a person encounters a stinging ray that led Plato to the analogy: "as stinging ray, Socrates ... makes you stop and think."
Let's take some advice from a great philosopher. No need to "reform" that "stop and think" approach. It is actually good for us.