California Environmental Quality Act
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is a statewide statute passed in 1970 and signed into law by then-Governor Ronald Reagan shortly after the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Similar to NEPA, CEQA requires state and local agencies in California to analyze and publicly disclose the environmental impacts of proposed projects. CEQA goes further, requiring state and local agencies to adopt all feasible measures to mitigate environmental impacts as well.
Imagine this: A large housing tract is proposed in an area of pristine desert with desert tortoises, which are a protected species at the federal level. The area is also adjacent to an elementary school and the construction of the housing tract will create dust, noise, and traffic. The County Department of Planning is responsible for permitting this project. Under CEQA, the County would have to analyze the project’s impact on the tortoises, children, families, and the surrounding community, and identify measures to mitigate those impacts such as relocating the tortoises.
Our goals are to make sure that community members:
- Understand how CEQA works so that you can get involved in the public process to hold state and local agencies accountable for how they manage our natural resources and the impacts of their decisions on the environment.
- Understand the importance of CEQA so that you can mobilize and take action to defend it from attempts to weaken or dismantle it.
- Focus attention on specific projects in the California desert to ensure the CEQA process is utilized to protect the ecology of the California desert, and its communities’ way of life.