California Environmental Quality Act
- The basic goal of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (Pub. Res. Code §21000 et seq.) is to provide a
State charter for the protection of California's environment while the specific goals of CEQA are:
1) take all actions necessary to protect, rehabilitate and enhance the environmental quality of the State;
2) identify the significant effects of projects on the environment; and
3) provide feasible mitigation where possible.
- CEQA applies to "projects" proposed to be undertaken or requiring approval by State and local government agencies. As stated above, it requires these agencies to disclose a project's "significant environmental effects" and provide mitigation where feasible. Major projects often require approvals from more than one public agency. In these instances, CEQA requires ones of these public agencies to serve as the "lead agency."
- "Projects" include the enactment of zoning ordinances, the issuance of conditional use permits and the approval of tentative subdidvision maps.
- According to the State CEQA Guidelines (Governor's Office of Planning and Research 1996) "significant environmental effects" include actions that will significantly affect:
1) a rare or endangered species of animal or plant or the habitat of the species;
2) the movement of any resident or migratory fish or wildlife species; and
3) the extent of habitat for fish, wildlife or plants.
- A "lead agency" undertakes three basic activities:
1) it determines if the project is exempt from CEQA;
2) it performs an Initial Study of the environmental impact of the project; and
3) based on the Initial Study, it decides to prepare a brief Negative Declaration or a much more detailed Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
- The purpose of an EIR is to provide State and local agencies and the general public with detailed information on the effects which a proposed project is likely to have and to list ways which the significant environmental effects may be minimized and indicate alternatives to the project.
- Some State agencies do not have to comply with certain CEQA provisions because the Secretary of Resources has determined their regulatory programs to be "functionally equivalent" to CEQA's environmental protection and review process.
Both the CEQA Statute and the CEQA Guidelines (current as of 1996) are available to the public in all county libraries, as well as some colleges and university libraries, in the government publications section. They also may be purchased as one publication from the California Department of General Services. Send request and payment of $18.00 (make check payable to "Procurement Publications") to:
California Department of General Services
P.O. Box 1015
North Highlands, CA 95660
Copyright © 2007 State of California