Lead Agency prepares final EIR including responses to comments on draft EIR
  1. What needs to be included in a final EIR?
  2. How long does a public agency have to produce an EIR report?
  3. If the EIR is prepared under a contract to a state agency, when must the contract be executed?
  4. How important are public hearings in preparation of the final EIR.
  5. If I have a number of small projects closely tied together, should I prepare multiple EIRs or compose one single EIR for the whole project?
  6. When should I prepare a staged EIR?
  7. What does the staged EIR do?
  8. If I prepare a staged EIR, do I also need to prepare a supplement to the EIR?
  9. Can a Responsible Agency prepare a staged EIR?
  10. What is a program EIR?
  11. What advantages do I have in preparing a program EIR?
  12. What should I do with subsequent activities with regards to a program EIR?
  13. Can I use a program EIR with subsequent EIRs?
  14. Case Law

 

1. What needs to be included in a final EIR?

The final EIR should consist of:

  • The draft EIR or a revision of the draft.
  • Comments and recommendations received on the draft EIR either verbatim or in summary.
  • A list of persons, organizations, and public agencies commenting on the draft EIR.
  • The responses of the Lead Agency to significant environmental points raised in the review and consultation process.
  • Any other information added by the Lead Agency.

Guidelines §15132

 

2. How long does a public agency have to produce an EIR report?

A public agency has one year to complete and certify an EIR. The time limit begins from the date on which an application requesting approval of the project is received and accepted as complete by the state agency. A reasonable extension o f the time period is allowed.

Public Resources Code §21100.2, §21151.5

 

3. If the EIR is prepared under a contract, when must the contract be executed?

If an EIR, or a focused EIR is prepared under a contract to a state agency, the contract shall be executed within 45 days from the date on which the state agency sends a notice of preparation.

Public Resources Code §21100.2, §21151.5

 

4. How important are public hearings in preparation of the final EIR.

Although formal hearings are not required, public hearings are very important. Public participation is an essential part of the CEQA process and draft EIRs should be used for discussion purposes during the public hearings. The Lead Agency should also allow the public adequate time to review the EIR.

Guidelines §15201, §15202, §15203

 

5. If I have a number of small projects closely tied together, should I prepare multiple EIRs or compose one single EIR for the whole project?

Where individual projects are, or a phased project is, to be undertaken and where the total undertaking comprises a project with significant environmental effect, the Lead Agency should prepare a single program EIR for the ultimate project. Where an individual project is a necessary precedent for action on a larger project, or commits the Lead Agency to a larger project, with significant environmental effect, an EIR must address itself to the scope of the larger project. Where one project is one of several similar projects of a public agency but is not deemed a part of a larger undertaking or a larger project, the agency may prepare one EIR for all projects, or one for each project, but should always comment upon the cumulative effect.

Guidelines §15165

 

6. When should I prepare a staged EIR?

Where a large capital project will require a number of discretionary approvals from government agencies and one of the approvals will occur more than two years before construction will begin, a staged EIR may be prepared covering the entire project in a general form.

Guidelines §15167

 

7. What does the staged EIR do?

The staged EIR should evaluate the proposal in light of current and contemplated plans and produce an informed estimate of the environmental consequences of the entire project. The aspect of the project before the public agency for approval should be discussed with a greater degree of specificity.

Guidelines §15167

 

8. If I prepare a staged EIR, do I also need to prepare a supplement to the EIR?

Yes. When a staged EIR has been prepared, a supplement to the EIR should be prepared when a later approval is required for the project, and the information available at the time of the later approval would permit consideration of additional environmental impacts, mitigation measures, or reasonable alternatives to the project.

Guidelines §15167

 

9. Can a Responsible Agency prepare a staged EIR?

Yes. Where a statute provides that a specific agency shall be the Lead Agency for a project and requires the Lead Agency to prepare an EIR, a Responsible Agency which must grant an approval for the project before the Lead Agency has completed the EIR may prepare and consider a staged EIR.

Guidelines §15167

 

10. What is a program EIR?

A program EIR is an EIR which may be prepared on a series of actions that can be characterized as one large project and are related either:

  • Geographically,
  • A logical parts in the chain of contemplated actions,
  • In connection with issuance of rules, regulations, plans, or other general criteria to govern the conduct of a continuing program, or
  • As individual activities carried out under the same authorizing statutory or regulatory authority and having generally similar environmental effects which can be mitigated in similar ways.

Guidelines §15168

 

11. What advantages do I have in preparing a program EIR?

Use of a program EIR can provide the following advantages. The program EIR can:

  • Provide an occasion for a more exhaustive consideration of effects and alternatives than would be practical in an EIR on an individual action,
  • Ensure consideration of cumulative impacts that might be slighted in a case-by-case analysis,
  • Avoid duplicative reconsideration of basic policy considerations,
  • Allow the Lead Agency to consider broad policy alternatives and program wide mitigation measures at an early time when the agency has greater flexibility to deal with basic problems or cumulative impacts, and
  • Allow reduction in paperwork.

Guidelines §15168

 

12. What should I do with subsequent activities with regards to a program EIR?

Subsequent activities in the program must be examined in the light of the program EIR to determine whether an additional environmental document must be prepared. If a later activity would have effects that were not examined in the program EIR, a new Initial Study would need to be prepared leading to either an EIR or a Negative Declaration. If the agency finds that no new effects could occur or no new mitigation measures would be required, the agency can approve the activity as being within the scope of the project covered by the program EIR, and no new environmental document would be required. An agency should incorporate feasible mitigation measures and alternatives developed in the program EIR into subsequent actions in the program. Some other things to consider:

  • Where the subsequent activities involve site specific operations, the agency should use a written checklist or similar device to document the evaluation of the site and the activity to determine whether the environmental effects of the operation were covered in the program EIR.
  • A program EIR will be most helpful in dealing with subsequent activities if it deals with the effects of the program as specifically and comprehensively as possible. With a good and detailed analysis of the program, many subsequent activities could be found to be within the scope of the project described in the program EIR, and no further environmental documents would be required.

Guidelines §15168

 

13. Can I use a program EIR with subsequent EIRs?

Yes. A program EIR is intended to be used to simplify the task of preparing subsequent environmental documents. The program EIR can:

  • Provide the basis in an Initial Study for determining whether the later activity may have any significant effects.
  • Be incorporated by reference to deal with regional influences, secondary effects, cumulative impacts, broad alternatives, and other factors that apply to the program as a whole.
  • Focus an EIR on a subsequent project to permit discussion solely of new effects which had not been considered before.

Guidelines §15168

 

14. Case Law

Concerned Citizens of Costa Mesa, Inc. v. 32nd District Agricultural, Assoc. (1986) 42 Cal.3d 929

The court emphasized that the public holds a "privileged position" in the CEQA process "based on a belief that citizens can make important contributions to environmental protection and on notions of democratic decision making."