The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was passed by the California State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan in 1970. In addition to the statutes in the Public Resources Code, CEQA includes a document known as the “CEQA Guidelines” in which the California Resources Agency provides detailed guidance on how agencies should comply with CEQA. The Guidelines are given great weight by courts and agencies generally treat them as the law. The Guidelines are updated from time to time to reflect the latest legal decisions of the California Supreme Court and California Appellate courts. Also, the California Resources Agency provides a chronological listing of reported CEQA cases from 1972-2010 that have affected and influenced CEQA statutes and guidelines.

This section provides the opportunity to review the statutes, guidelines and case law associated with CEQA.

CEQA Statutes

You can find the complete text of the CEQA statutes at California Law, California Public Resources Code, Sections 21000 et seq.

CEQA Guidelines

The CEQA Guidelines are binding on all public agencies in California. You can find the CEQA Guidelines at the California office of Administrative Law and then follow links to Title 14, Division 6, Chapter 3.

CEQA Guidelines Being Updated – NOTE: NEEDS UPDATE

The focus on CEQA this year is shifting from the Legislature to the Executive branch. The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) is engaged in its mandated regular review of the CEQA Guidelines, which happens at least once every two years. The CEQA Guidelines, while not binding on agencies, represent best practices and clarifications for the CEQA process, and are usually deferred to by the courts. They also serve to more fully explain and delineate matters left fuzzy by legislation.

This year, OPR intends to do the first major overhaul of the CEQA Guidelines since the 1990’s. The update will also have to include replacement metrics for Level of Service, per SB 743. The Guideline update process is open to public comment, and PCL has been participating since the beginning. To learn more, visit OPR’s website. You can learn more by reading PCL’s first-round comments on the Guidelines.

CEQA Case Law (1972-2010)

View the reported CEQA cases from 1972 to 2010 that have affected and influenced CEQA statutes and guidelines.