California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
The California Environmental Quality Act requires local and state governments to consider the potential environmental effects of a project before deciding whether to approve it. CEQA's purpose is to disclose the potential impacts of a project, suggest methods to minimize those impacts, and discuss alternatives to the project so that decision makers will have full information upon which to base their decision. Types of CEQA documents and categories include:
- Initial Study (IS): An analysis of a project's potential environmental effects and their relative significance. An initial study is preliminary to deciding whether to prepare a negative declaration or an EIR.
- Exempt: Article 19 of CEQA outlines certain classes of projects that do not have a significant effect on the environment and are therefore declared categorically exempt from having to prepare environmental documents.
- Negative Declaration/Mitigated Negative Declaration (ND/MND): When a project is not exempt from CEQA and will not have a significant adverse effect upon the environment a negative declaration must be prepared. The negative declaration is an informational document that describes the reasons why the project will not have a significant effect and proposes measures to completely mitigate or avoid any possible effects.
- Environmental Impact Report (EIR): A detailed review of a proposed project, its potential adverse impacts upon the environment, measures that may avoid or reduce those impacts, and alternatives to the project.