*****Disclaimer: This is not legal advice and is for educational purposes only. This does not create an attorney-client privilege.
The CA Environmental Quality Act, commonly referred to as CEQA is California`s broadest environmental law. The act operates in a number of ways, but it essentially is responsible for regulating both public and private interests to protect both the environment and communities.
The CEQA act has several key points. The first of these is that it formally outlines more about the duty and right of the state and federal government to regulate the actions of businesses and individuals to minimize harm to the environment. Not only will they regulate, but they will develop standards, regulations, and procedures to guide groups seeking to undertake a project of a scope that could potentially impact its surroundings significantly. These standards will provide structure to regulations and approaches to protecting, maintaining, rehabilitating, and enhancing environmental quality.
This law prohibits projects that would significantly damage the environment, whether that means impacting flora or fauna, being lovely toxic, threatening public health or any number of other violations. It holds both public and private enterprises and individuals to these standards.
It also outlines a lot with the documentation required for projects. Essentially, before a project is started, an environmental impact report must be performed to determine what the potential effects of it will be on the environment. If the project is projected to cause harm, it may either be entirely scrapped or the group might have to develop a Mitigation Action Plan (MAP) to show how they will do all in their power to minimize the negative impacts of a proposed project.
These EIRs are to include the details of all possible impacts of a project. It will identify effects, alternatives and possible mitigation measures. The CEQA additionally mandates that this information is publicly available. So not only does it regulate and provide guidelines, but it requires a level of transparency. Companies are no longer allowed to just poison the communities they operate in without disclosing what they are doing. This education piece is so important because it allows the community to get involved and protest a project or make informed decisions about where to live and what to support.
It is a legal requirement for businesses to follow the CEQA process and get their projects approved. Failure to do so could result in lawsuits. This process is important for protecting the environment, getting the public more involved in the process, and holding groups accountable for their actions and their effect on the environment and community.