When acting as a responsible agency, the [local] enforcement agency (EA) will utilize environmental analyses and documentation prepared by the lead agency in its decision-making process. To ensure adequacy of these documents under CEQA, the EA is given the opportunity to affect the scope and contents of the analysis by providing consultation to the lead agency. The EA should designate representatives to attend scoping meetings.
Reference: 14 CCR Section 15096(b)
When consultation is requested by the lead agency, the EA should review the notice of early consultation (NOEC) or notice of preparation (NOP) for the proposed project and provide the lead agency with specific detail about the scope and content of the environmental information. Comments should be related to the EA’s area of statutory authority and expertise. Comments also should be made in order to disclose information necessary for the EA to make their approval over the portion of the project related to the permitting and enforcement of the proposed project. If an EIR is to be prepared and consultation is not requested, the EA can ask for a consultation meeting. The EA must respond to an NOP within 30 days.
As a responsible agency, the EA has an additional opportunity to affect the quality of the analysis provided in an environmental document by reviewing and commenting on proposed or draft documents.
When a MND or ND is being prepared, the EA can comment on the proposed document. Comments need to be returned to the lead agency within the indicated review period. MNDs and NDs do not require the lead agency to respond to comments. Therefore, if the EA disagrees with the level of detail necessary for the processing of a solid waste facility permit, the EA must indicate where the document is deficient and offer inclusions to be incorporated/amended into the final document. If the EA disagrees with the proposal to prepare a MND or ND, the significant effects which would result from the project must be identified and a recommendation made to modify the project, incorporate mitigation measures, or prepare an EIR.
If an EIR is being prepared, the EA should respond within the indicated review period. Comments should speak to the scope and content of the EIR germane to the EA’s responsibilities. Comments on a draft EIR should focus on the completeness of the project description and proposed project alternatives, as well as the completeness, inconsistencies and/or correctness of the environmental analysis and technical appendices in the EIR. The comments should offer additional information, mitigation measures or alternatives that should be included. The comments need to be limited to those project activities which are within the agency’s expertise or which are required to be carried out or approved by the agency or which will be subject to the exercise of powers by the agency.
Reference: 14 CCR section 15096(d)
Use of a Lead Agency’s Document(s)
The EA shall consider the lead agency’s EIR, MND or ND prior to acting upon or approving the project. The responsible agency shall certify that it reviewed and considered the information contained in the EIR, MND or ND. 14 CCR Sections 15050(b) and 15096(a)
If the EA finds the document prepared by the lead agency is inadequate for its use as a responsible agency, the EA must either:
- Take the issue to court within 30 days if a notice of determination has been filed;
- Be deemed to have waived any objection to the adequacy of the EIR, MND, or ND;
- Prepare a subsequent EIR, ND, MND if permitted under 14 CCR Section 15162; or
- Assume the lead agency role as provided 14 CCR Sections 15052(a)(3) and 15096(e).
If the document is deemed to be adequate, the EA must consider the environmental effects of the project as shown in the EIR, ND or MND prior to making a decision on the project. 14 CCR Section 15096(f)
If an EIR was developed, the EA shall not approve a project as proposed if any feasible alternative or feasible mitigation measures within its powers would substantially lessen or avoid any significant effect. 14 CCR section 15096(g)
The LEA needs to make the written findings as required by 14 CCR Sections 15091, 15093, 15096(h).
After the LEA approves the project by issuing a permit, a notice of determination may be filed with the County Clerk and the State Clearinghouse.