What is the Difference Between and EIR and a Negative Declaration?

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN EIR AND A NEGATIVE DECLARATION (NEG. DEC.)?

  • A Negative Declaration is a document that states upon completion of an initial study, that there is no substantial evidence that the project may have a significant effect on the environment.
  • An EIR is an informational document which will inform the public agency decision-makers and the public generally of:
    • the significant environmental effects of a project
    • possible ways to minimize significant effects
    • reasonable alternatives to the project

HOW DOES THE AGENCY DECIDE?

  • A Negative Declaration can be prepared only when there is no substantial evidence in light of the whole record before the lead agency that the project may have a significant effect on the environment. (PRC §21080(c)), (14 C.C.R. §15070)
  • An EIR must be prepared when there is substantial evidence in the record that supports a fair argument that significant effects may occur. (PRC §21080(d))
  • The existence of controversy over the effects of a project does not require preparation of an EIR if there is no substantial evidence in the record that the project may have a significant environmental effect. (PRC §21082.2)

STATUTORY REFERENCES

Negative Declarations | Public Resources Code §21080
GUIDELINE REFERENCES
Decision to Prepare a Negative or Mitigated Negative Declaration | 14 California Code of Regulations §15070

SELECTED CASE LAW


Additional Questions and Answers on this topic