NEPA CEQA Handbook

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To promote efficient and effective environmental reviews, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the California Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) jointly issued a Handbook for Integrating California State and Federal environmental reviews for public review and comment. The (CEQ) Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy, (40 CFR Parts 1500-1508) encourage integration of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process with other planning and environmental reviews, such as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). NEPA and CEQA are similar, both in their intent and review process (the analyses, public engagement, and document preparation). Importantly, both statutes encourage a joint Federal and State review where a project requires both Federal and State approvals.

This handbook serves to improve efficiency, transparency and coordination in the joint environmental review process, in order for Federal and State agencies to continue to pursue shared goals and to meet the requirements of both statutes. It provides practitioners with an overview of NEPA and CEQA as well as suggestions for developing a single environmental review process that can meet the requirements of both statutes. The handbook also provides a framework for a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between two or more agencies entering into a joint NEPA/ CEQA review process, and addresses the California Energy Commission (CEC) licensing process, which takes the place of the CEQA process for certain power plants.

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