CARB’s Certified Regulatory Program, Implementing the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
CEQA requires public agencies to analyze and disclose the potentially significant environmental impacts that may result from their discretionary approval decisions. CEQA also requires such agencies to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible. (Pub. Resources Code § 21100.) State agencies may develop their own CEQA-equivalent regulatory programs, and may seek certification of those programs by the Natural Resources Agency. (Pub. Resources Code § 21080.5) This certification exempts agencies from Chapters 3 and 4 of CEQA (Division 13 of the Public Resources Code), because the environmental analysis involved in the regulatory program is deemed to be the functional equivalent of traditional CEQA documentation. (14 California Code of Regulations (CCR) §§ 15250-53.)
In 1978, CARB received certification of its regulatory program by the Secretary of Natural Resources. After receiving its certification, CARB amended its CEQA regulations twice. The first amendments, in 1980, were in response to legislative changes to the Administrative Procedures Act that imposed some requirements that needed to be incorporated into the regulations. The next amendments were approved in September 1981 in response to Assembly Bill 1111, which required all agencies to review all regulations on the basis of five statutory criteria (necessity, clarity, consistency, authority, and reference). Since 1981, CARB has not amended the procedures for its certified regulatory program; however, the CEQA statute and guidelines have been amended numerous times, and CEQA case law has evolved considerably.
CARB is proposing to update its certified regulatory program to more fully set forth its CEQA review procedures, and to resolve certain ambiguities about CARB’s certified regulatory program. Such changes will bring greater efficiency and transparency to CARB’s planning and rulemaking processes by creating a more uniform and clear environmental review process