Environmental Impact Reports

A Summary of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

(California Public Resources Code, Sections 21000 – 21178, and Title 14 CCR, Section 753, and Chapter 3, Sections 15000 – 15387)

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is California’s broadest environmental law. CEQA helps to guide the Department during issuance of permits and approval of projects. Courts have interpreted CEQA to afford the fullest protection of the environment within the reasonable scope of the statutes. CEQA applies to all discretionary projects proposed to be conducted or approved by a California public agency, including private projects requiring discretionary government approval.

The purpose of CEQA is to:

  • Disclose to the public the significant environmental effects of a proposed discretionary project 
  • Prevent or minimize damage to the environment through development of project alternatives, mitigation measures, and mitigation monitoring.
  • Disclose to the public the agency decision-making process utilized to approve discretionary projects through findings and statements of overriding consideration.
  • Enhance public participation in the environmental review process through scoping meetings, public notice, public review, hearings, and the judicial process.
  • Improve interagency coordination through early consultations, scoping meetings, notices of preparation, and State Clearinghouse review.

Common abbreviations used on this page:

  • NOP - Notice of Preparation
  • NOC - Notice of Completion
  • NOE - Notice of Exemption
  • NOD - Notice of Determination
  • NOI - Notice of Intent

Merced County's Environmental Impact Reports