The Truth About CEQA

CEQARecently, the California Environmental Quality Act, CEQA, has come under attack by forces backed by development dollars and a governor who’s promised to begin reforming this grand piece of legislation that was signed into law by Ronald Reagan. The NRDC has published a study called “CEQA-The Litigation Myth”. The study notes among other important facts that, …

  • The total number of CEQA cases is small, averaging only about 200 per year.
  • As a percentage of total civil cases, CEQA cases are 00.02% of 1,100,000 civil cases filed annually in California.
  • The number is also small as a percentage of projects subject to CEQA, around 1% or less.

CEQA critics have pointed out that published appellate CEQA decisions have ruled against public agencies and developers about half the time. In the critics’ view that creates an unacceptable risk for project developers. This conclusion is based on the evaluation of a small number of atypical cases. Drawing these broad conclusions from such a small sample of relatively unusual cases has no statistical value. A review of these cases shows that the courts often rule in favor of environmental petitioners, such as project neighbors and community groups, finding there to be abuses by project applicants seeking to avoid environmental disclosure or mitigation. This is exactly how the system is supposed to work.

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