- The basic goal of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
(Pub. Res. Code §21000 et
seq.) is to develop and maintain a high-quality environment now and
in the future, while the specific goals of CEQA are for California's public
1) identify the significant environmental effects of their actions;
2) avoid those significant environmental effects, where feasible; or
3) mitigate those significant environmental effects, where feasible.
- CEQA applies to "projects" proposed to be undertaken or requiring
approval by State and local government agencies.
activities which have the potential to have a physical impact on the
environment and may include the enactment of zoning ordinances, the
issuance of conditional use permits and the approval of tentative
- Where a project requires approvals from more than one public agency,
CEQA requires ones of these public agencies to serve as the "lead agency."
A "lead agency" must complete the environmental review process required
by CEQA. The most basic steps of the environmental review process are:
1) Determine if the activity is a "project" subject to CEQA;
2) Determine if the "project" is exempt from CEQA;
3) Perform an Initial Study to identify the environmental impacts of the
project and determine whether the identified impacts are "significant".
Based on its findings of "significance", the lead agency prepares one of
the following environmental review documents:
a) Negative Declaration if it finds no "significant" impacts;
b) Mitigated Negative Declaration if it finds "significant" impacts but
revises the project to avoid or mitigate those significant impacts;
c) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) if it finds "significant"
While there is no ironclad definition of "significance", the State CEQA
Guidelines provides criteria to lead agencies in determining whether a
project may have significant effects in Article
The purpose of an EIR is to provide State and local agencies and the
general public with detailed information on the potentially significant
environmental effects which a proposed project is likely to have and to
list ways which the significant environmental effects may be minimized and
indicate alternatives to the project.
Both the CEQA Statute and CEQA Guidelines are
available on-line. Print copies are available to the public in all county libraries, as well as some colleges and
university libraries, in the government publications section.
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This file last modified on: Wednesday, May 25, 2005.
Document URL: http://ceres.ca.gov/ceqa/summary.html
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