VALLEJO, CA / ACCESSWIRE / November 13, 2020 / The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is a state law that oversees all applications for new projects and mandates that those projects include required environmental protections. It requires any company involved with these projects to provide full disclosure of information related to environmental effects (this applies primarily to any project that requires a discretionary permit).
Randy Risner recognizes that many organizations don't have extra time to review the CEQA and find all the important compliance points - but this guide over the key aspects of the Act is a useful place to start.
The CEQA Process is Designed with the Public in Mind
Randy Risner advises organizations in California to always plan for the CEQA approval process as early as possible, and expect it to take some time. This is because a major component of CEQA compliance is about making room for public involvement. According to Randy Risner, this can include a period of public review - but if CEQA documentation shows adverse environmental effects, that can open the door for lawsuits from concerned citizens and opponents of the project.
The key to avoiding problems? Randy Risner suggests a broad head start and significant research before the CEQA process is even begun.
2018 was a Key Year for CEQA
In 2018, Randy Risner notes, CEQA went through a key update provided by the California Natural Resources Agency. This update helped provide a lot of non-binding suggestions for studying and reporting environmental impact - a lot of best practice advice that newer organizations can use, as well as general improvements to explanations throughout the CEQA. If it has been several years since an organization has really read through CEQA materials, Randy Risner advises companies to make time for another review.
CEQA Can Sometimes Be Bypassed
If a business doesn't believe that a particular project will have an environmental impact (even if requires a discretionary permit), then Randy Risner suggests that the business looks into statuary exemptions. These exemptions apply to a wide variety of projects that don't need to go through the CEQA process at all. A business can also submit the information that will lead to a Negative Declaration, or essentially an agency statement that there will no adverse environmental impact - an outcome many organizations aim for.
However, Randy Risner also reminds businesses that there are other ways to speed up the CEQA process, especially by providing all necessary forms and application details by the required times. If a business is new to Californian law, a third-party consultant or auditor may be a good idea to ensure accuracy and compliance.
Randy Risner also reminds organizations that CEQA is always subject to change. The original law from more than 40 years ago has seen constant updates and changes (both political and practical) that can impact industries in a variety of different ways. If a company works on related projects in the state, Randy Risner says it's a good idea to keep an eye on any impending legislation that will alter CEQA, and what effects that will have.
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SOURCE: Randy Risner