Contents of Environmental Impact Reports

Table of Contents or Index

An EIR shall contain at least a table of contents or an index to assist readers in finding the analysis of different subjects and issues.


An EIR shall contain a brief summary of the proposed actions and its consequences. The language of the summary should be as clear and simple as reasonably practical, and should normally not exceed 15 pages. The summary shall identify: each significant effect with proposed mitigation measures and alternatives that would reduce or avoid that effect, areas of controversy known to the lead agency including issues raised by agencies and the public; and issues to be resolved including the choice among alternatives and whether each significant impact will be reduced to a less-than-significant level following mitigation..

Project Description

The description of the project shall contain the following information but should not supply extensive detail beyond that needed for evaluation and review of the environmental impact.

The precise location and boundaries of the proposed project shall be shown on a detailed map, preferably topographic. The location of the project shall also appear on a regional map. A clearly writtern statement of objectives sought by the proposed project will help the lead agency develop a reasonable range of alternatives to evaluate in the EIR and will aid the decision makers in preparing findings and a statement of overriding considerations, if necessary. The statement of objectives should include the purpose of the project. The EIR should include a general description of the project’s technical, economic, and environmental characteristics, considering the principal engineering proposals if any and supporting public service facilities, and a statement briefly describing it’s intended uses.

Environmental Setting

An EIR must include a description of the physical environmental conditions in the vicinity of the project, as they exist at the time the notice of preparation is published, from both a local and regional perspective. This environmental setting will normally constitute the baseline physical conditions by which a lead agency determines whether an impact is significant. The CIWMB has checklists for each type of waste facility that detail what should be covered in an environmental setting description.

Reference: CalRecycle Facility Checklists

Environmental Impacts

All phases of a project must be considered when evaluating its impact on the environment: planning, acquisition, development, and operation. The subjects listed below shall be discussed as per CCR Title 14 Sections 15126.2, 15126.4 and 15126.6, preferably in separate sections or paragraphs of the EIR. If they are not discussed separately, the EIR shall include a table showing where each of the subjects is discussed.

Significant Environmental Impacts

An EIR shall identify and focus on the significant environmental effects of the proposed project. In assessing the impact of a proposed project on the environment, the lead agency should normally limit its examination to changes in the existing physical conditions in the affected area, as they exist at the time the notice of preparation is published. Direct and indirect significant effects of the project on the environment shall be clearly identified and described, giving due consideration to both the short-term and long-term effects.

Any significant impacts, including those that can be mitigated but not reduced to a level of insignificance should be described. Where there are impacts that cannot be alleviated without imposing an alternative design, their implications and the reasons why the project is being proposed, notwithstanding their effect, should be described.

Mitigation Measures

An EIR shall describe feasible measures which could minimize significant adverse impacts, including where relevant, inefficient and unnecessary consumption of energy (required by CEQA Guidelines Appendix F-Effective March 18, 2010)..

The discussion of mitigation measures shall distinguish between the measures that are proposed by project proponents to be included in the project, and other measures proposed by the lead, responsible or trustee agencies. This discussion shall identify mitigation measures for each significant environmental effect identified in the EIR.

Mitigation measures must be fully enforceable through permit conditions, agreements, or other legally binding instruments. In the case of the adoption of a plan, policy, regulation, or other public project, mitigation measures can be incorporated into the plan, policy, regulation, or project design. Mitigation measures are not required for effects that are not found to be significant.

Alternatives to the Proposed Project

An EIR shall describe a range of reasonable alternatives to the project, including the alternative of “no project”, or to the location of the project, which would feasibly attain most of the basic objectives of the project but would avoid or substantially lessen any of the significant effects of the project, and evaluate the comparative merits of the alternatives. An EIR need not consider every conceivable alternative to a project; rather, it must consider a reasonable range of potentially feasible alternatives that will foster informed decision-making and public participation. An EIR is not required to consider alternatives that are not feasible. The lead agency is responsible for selecting a range of project alternatives for examination and must publicly disclose it’s reasoning for selecting those alternatives.

Reference: EIR Project Alternatives-14CCR Section 15126.6

Discussion of Cumulative Impacts

An EIR shall discuss cumulative impacts of a project when the project’s incremental effect is cumulatively considerable, as defined in 14 CCR Section 15130. Where a lead agency is examining a project with an incremental effect that is not “cumulatively considerable,” a lead agency need not consider that effect significant, but shall briefly describe its basis for concluding that the incremental effect is not cumulatively considerable.

Economic and Social Effects

Economic or social effects of a project shall not be treated as significant effects on the environment. An EIR may trace a chain of cause and effect from a proposed decision on a project through anticipated economic or social changes resulting from the project to physical changes caused in turn by the economic or social changes. The intermediate economic or social changes need not be analyzed in detail more than necessary to trace the chain of cause and effect. The focus of the analysis shall be on the physical changes.

Reference: 14 CCR Section 15131

Contents of Final Environmental Impact Report

The final EIR shall consist of the following:

  • 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,
  • Responses of the lead agency to significant environmental points raised in the review and consultation process,
  • Any other information added by the lead agency.

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