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California Environmental Quality Act

DEFINITION

Act that requires disclosure of the environmental effects of a proposed discretionary project and to disclose the decision making process through findings and statements.

EXPLANATION

The California Environmental Quality was created in 1970. It establishes statewide environmental protection protocol.

CEQA requires that both public and private companies submit reports documenting the environmental impact of proposed projects. State and local agencies analyze these reports and offer their own in-depth evaluation.

These agencies release their findings as an impact assessment for public review.

A negative declaration affirms that a proposed project will do no substantial harm to the environment. If the public offers no opposition or further concern, the agency adopts the document and gives the company permission to develop its project as proposed.

An environmental impact report proposes changes to the project in order to reduce or avoid significant environmental risks. The agency may also suggest environmentally-superior alternatives, which could mean the cancellation of a project.

How California Enviornmental Quality Act  is Related to other Acts

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was enacted in 1970 to promote the enhancement of environmental interests.

National concern for the environment had grown throughout the 1960s. Protests against the demolition of ecosystems during the construction of an interstate highway and the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill heightened the demand for environmental protections. The Act was passed in an effort to balance environmental concerns with commercial activity.

The Act requires federal agencies to prepare environmental assessments and impact reports prior to implementing proposed federal actions. Based on their findings, federal agencies must develop policy that both protects the environment and maintains property rights.

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