California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)


Purpose of CEQA

CEQA seeks to accomplish the following five major objectives:

Disclose Environmental Impacts

Identify and disclose the significant environmental impacts of proposed projects before consideration and approval.
CEQA documents prepared:

  • Initial Studies
  • Negative Declarations
  • Environmental Impact Reports

Prevent or Reduce Environmental Damage

The CEQA process determines ways to prevent or reduce any identified environmental impacts by:

  • Requiring consideration of feasible project alternatives or
  • Adoption of mitigation measures and monitoring for project impacts that cannot be avoided.

Disclose Agency Decisions

The process fully discloses why all involved agencies approved projects with significant environmental impacts through the following methods:

  • Findings
  • Statement of Overriding Consideration

Promote Interagency Coordination

Agencies help each other thoroughly understand the potential environmental impacts of a proposed project with these methods:

  • Early consultation
  • Scoping meetings
  • Notice of Preparation (NOP)
  • State Clearinghouse review

Encourage Public Participation

The public may take part in a project’s overall planning in one or more of the following ways:

  • Scoping meetings
  • Receipt of public notice
  • Response to comments
  • Legal enforcement procedures
  • Citizen access to the courts

CEQA and CalRecycle

CalRecycle cooperates with local government to protect public health, safety, and the environment from the potentially detrimental effects of improper solid waste management.

CalRecycle has discretionary authority within the local enforcement agencies’ (LEA) permit action process to issue, revise, or modify solid waste facility permits (SWFPs) to ensure that these facilities and their operations comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

As a lead or responsible agency, as defined in CEQA, CalRecycle complies with the procedural and substantive requirements of CEQA as described in PRC Section 21080 and 14 CCR Section 15002.

Legislative and Court Policies

The California Legislature established policies in Public Resources Code (PRC) Sections 21000, 21001, 21002, and 21002.1 about maintaining and enhancing a quality environment for the people of the state and controlling environmental pollution.

While many findings are made in the sections identified above, key policies relevant to government agencies are summarized as follows:

  • State agencies that regulate activities of private individuals, corporations, and public agencies that affect the quality of the environment are required to regulate such activities so that major consideration is given to preventing environmental damage.
  • Governmental agencies are required to develop standards and procedures necessary to protect environmental quality.
  • Governmental agencies are required to consider:
    • Qualitative factors
    • Economic and technical factors
    • Long-term benefits and costs
    • Short-term benefits and costs
    • Alternatives to proposed actions affecting the environment

The California courts have declared policies, many related to EIRs, to be implicit in CEQA. 14 CCR Section 15003 of the PRC highlights court cases that illustrate several essential principles in the application of CEQA. These court opinions are cited in numerous places within the CEQA guidelines.

For more information contact: LEA Support Services,