The purpose of a mitigation reporting or monitoring program (MRMP) is to discuss feasible measures to avoid or substantially reduce the significant environmental impacts from a project identified in the EIR or ND. Please review the sample MRMP for additional guidance.
What is a Mitigation Reporting or Monitoring Program?
A MRMP is a document or a matrix identifying mitigation actions to be taken and out comes when significant environmental impacts have been identified. The MRMP is adopted at the time the EIR is certified or the ND is adopted. A responsible agency must also adopt a program for reporting or monitoring mitigation measures that were adopted or made conditions of project approval.
In practice, drafting a good mitigation measure involves clearly explaining its objectives – specifically how it will be implemented, who is responsible for its implementation, where it will occur and when it will occur.
CEQA requires that, for each significant impact identified in the EIR or ND, the environmental document must discuss feasible mitigation measures to avoid or substantially reduce the project’s significant environmental effect. In the EIR or ND, the preparer should include all measures that it considers feasible, even though the ultimate determination of feasibility is not made until the decision makers prepare findings later in the project approval process. A measure brought to the attention of the lead agency should not be left out of the EIR or ND unless it is infeasible on its face.
Distinguishing Mitigation Measures
The EIR or ND must distinguish between the mitigation measures which are proposed by the project proponents to be included in the project from other measures proposed by the lead, responsible or trustee agencies, which are not included but could reasonably be expected to reduce the adverse impacts if required as conditions of approving the project. Where several measures are available to mitigate an impact, each should be discussed and the basis for selecting a particular measure should not be left out of the EIR or ND unless it is infeasible on its face.
The CEQA Guidelines provide, for the significant environmental effect of the proposed project, five categories of mitigation measures that:
- Reduce and Eliminate
To be considered adequate, mitigation measures should be specific, feasible actions that will actually improve adverse environmental conditions. Mitigation measures should be measurable to all monitoring their implementation. Mitigation measures consisting only of further studies or consultation with regulatory agencies that are not tied to a specific action plan may not be adequate and should therefore be avoided.
While a lead agency should attempt to apply mitigation measures consistently, CEQA does not mandate that the same mitigation measures be applied to similar projects.
When drafting mitigation measures, agencies should include only those that are feasible. A mitigation measure is considered feasible if it is capable of being accomplished in a successful manner within a reasonable period of time, taking into consideration economic, environmental, legal, social and technological factors.
A good mitigation measure involves clearly explaining its objectives-specifically how it will be implemented, who is responsible for its implementation, where it will occur and when it will occur.
This list provides information on how to create a good mitigation measure and includes the questions to ask and a description of the details to provide to address each question.
- State the objectives of the mitigation measure and why it is recommended.
- Explain the specifics of the mitigation measure and how it will be designated and implemented.
- Identify measurable performance standards by which the success of the mitigation can be determined.
- Provide for contingent mitigation if monitoring reveals that the success standards are not satisfied.
- Identify the agency, organization or individual responsible for implementing the measure.
- Identify the specific location of the mitigation measure.
- Develop a schedule for implementation.
Authority to Enforce
The mitigation measures to be monitored or the subject of reporting must be fully enforceable through permit conditions, agreements or other measures.
The overall thrust of these provisions is that mitigation measures should be implemented. The statute and Guidelines refer to three distinct but closely related concepts necessary to carry out this policy:
- Mitigation measures
- Means of implementing and enforcing mitigation measures
- Means of monitoring or reporting on the implementation and enforcement of mitigation measures
CEQA gives a public agency the authority to require feasible changes in any or all activities involved in a project to substantially lessen or avoid significant effects on the environment. An agency does not have an unlimited authority to impose mitigation measures.
In practice, the components of a MRMP typically include the following:
- Description of specific performance standards
- Master mitigation checklist
- Identification of project-specific monitoring activities
- Assignment of responsibilities
- Development of schedule
- Specific reporting requirements
- Field visit verification reports