Purpose of CEQA

Legislative and Court Policies

Legislative Intent and Policies

The California Legislature established policies in Public Resources Code (PRC) Sections 21000, 21001, 21002, and 21002.1 concerning the maintenance of a quality environment for the people of the state as well as the enhancement of the environment and control of 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 as well as economic and technical factors and long-term benefit and cost, in addition to short-term benefits and costs, and to consider alternatives to proposed actions affecting the environment.

Court Policies

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.

Objectives and Procedures

CEQA seeks to accomplish the following five major objectives using the procedures indicated below:

Disclose Environmental Impacts

The CEQA process is primarily designed to identify and disclose to decision makers and the public the significant environmental impacts of a proposed project prior to its consideration and approval. This is accomplished by the preparation of the following types of CEQA documents:

  • Initial Studies
  • Negative Declarations
  • Environmental Impact Reports

Prevent or Reduce Environmental Damage

If potential adverse environmental impacts are identified, the CEQA process next attempts to identify ways to prevent or reduce these impacts by requiring consideration of feasible project alternatives or the adoption of mitigation measures for project impacts that cannot be avoided along with appropriate mitigation monitoring.

Disclose Agency Decisions

The CEQA process provides for the full disclosure to the public of the reasons for agency (lead, responsible, trustee) approval of projects with significant environmental impacts using the following methods:

  • Findings
  • Statement of Overriding Consideration

Promote Interagency Coordination

Lead, responsible, and trustee agencies assist each other in more thoroughly understanding the potential environmental impacts associated with a proposed project by incorporating one or more of the following into their CEQA processes:

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

Encourage Public Participation

The CEQA process encourages and provides opportunities for public participation in the overall project planning process in one or more of the following CEQA processes:

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


CEQA and CalRecycle

The CalRecycle operates in cooperation with local government to assure protection of the public health, safety, and the environment from the potentially detrimental effects of improper solid waste management. The CalRecycle has discretionary authority for the concurrence in the issuance, revision, or modification of solid waste facilities permits (SWFPs) along with local enforcement agencies (LEAs) to assure that these facilities operate in a manner consistent with all applicable laws and regulations.

As a lead or responsible agency, as defined in CEQA, CalRecycle complies with both the procedural and substantive requirements of CEQA as described in PRC Section 21080 and 14 CCR Section 15002. Additional information regarding CalRecycle’s implementation of CEQA is found in Changing projects–Review for CEQA compliance.

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For more information contact: LEA Support Services, PermitTrainingAssistance@calrecycle.ca.gov