The California Environmental Quality Act, known as CEQA, is California’s premiere environmental law. Pronounced “see-quah,” this law was establishes a framework and process for analyzing, understanding and mitigating (lessening) significant project impacts. CEQA was passed in 1970 by the California Legislature and signed by then Governor Ronald Reagan. It’s federal counterpart is the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and this national legislation provided the impetus for the creation of this statewide environmental law.
CEQA has directly reduced or avoided substantial adverse environmental harm from hundreds of thousands of public decisions and development projects. At the same time, CEQA empowers local communities, provides valuable information to decision-makers, and promotes democratic participation by ensuring that public agencies make informed decisions—decisions with profound implications for the people of California and the California environment.
Staff and board of the Planning and Conservation League (PCL) played a central role in the development of CEQA, helping first to draft the policy language and then working to pass the legislation in the California Legislature. The League’s sister organization, the PCL Foundation to this day ensures that the public is aware of CEQA, understand how it protects and involves local communities, and that members of the public are trained to be confident, effective CEQA participants. The PCL Foundation has created online resources and offers educational workshops to interested communities and community members.