What is the California Environmental Quality Act and what is its purpose?

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which became law in 1970, reigns as the broadest environmental protection law in California. CEQA is a statute that requires state and local agencies to identify the potentially significant environmental impacts of a project and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible.

The basic purposes of CEQA are to:

  • Inform governmental decision-makers and the public about the potential, significant environmental effects of proposed activities.
  • Identify the ways that environmental impacts can be avoided or significantly reduced.
  • Prevent significant, avoidable impacts to the environment by requiring changes in projects through the use of alternatives or mitigation measures when the governmental agency finds the changes to be feasible.
  • Disclose to the public the reasons why a governmental agency approved the project in the manner the agency chose if significant environmental effects are involved.
  • Encourage early coordination among agencies in reviewing projects.
  • Provide better opportunities for public participation.

Show All Answers

1. What is the California Environmental Quality Act and what is its purpose?
2. Why is CEQA important?
3. How does CEQA work?
4. What is considered a project under CEQA?
5. Does every project require CEQA review?
6. What is an exemption?
7. What is an Initial Study?
8. What is a Significant Impact? How do you decide whether an impact is significant?
9. What is a mitigation measure?
10. What is a Negative Declaration or a Mitigated Negative Declaration?
11. What is an Environmental Impact Report (EIR)? When is one required?
12. What happens after the environmental document is finished?
13. Is a public hearing required?
14. How to citizens get involved? What are the public notice requirements?