CEQA Guidelines Update Underway

Learn about the Air District’s California Environmental Quality Act Guidelines, which help agencies evaluate air quality and greenhouse gas impacts from proposed projects and plans.

Update to the current CEQA Guidelines and Thresholds of Significance

The Air District is initiating an update to its current CEQA Guidelinesand thresholds of significance. There have been substantive changes to the data and assumptions underlying the analytical methodologies, thresholds, and mitigation strategies since the last update of the CEQA Guidelines in June 2010 (revised May 2017).

In addition, the risks to public health and air quality posed by global climate change have been brought into significantly increased focus and prominence, and the State of California has taken strong legislative and programmatic action to achieve greenhouse gas reductions beyond 2020. Furthermore, substantial court decisions related to CEQA litigation have occurred since 2010.

Accordingly, the Air District is initiating an update to reflect new or revised requirements in the State CEQA Guidelines, recent court decisions, improved analytical methodologies, and new mitigation strategies. This update is needed to ensure new land-use projects do not interfere with the Bay Area’s ability to attain or maintain health-based federal and State ambient air quality standards, and to meet greenhouse gas reduction goals pursuant to 2050 climate stabilization science. The Air District intends to review current thresholds of significance criteria and establish new significance criteria where needed.

The Air District is hosting a public workshop/webcast* to “kick off” the update to the CEQA Guidelines and thresholds of significance. Please join us at the workshop/webcast to:

  • Learn more about the update to the 2010 CEQA Guidelines
  • Provide early input on potential concepts for CEQA air quality and greenhouse gas thresholds for the Bay Area

When: Thursday, September 7th, 2017
10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Where: Bay Area Metro Center, Yerba Buena Room
375 Beale Street, San Francisco

*Can’t make it to the meeting? The workshop will also be webcast! A weblink will be made available on the morning of September 7, 2017 prior to the workshop under “Air District Webcasts” on the Air District home page

Current Air District CEQA Guidelines and Thresholds of Significance  

On June 2, 2010, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District's Board of Directors unanimously adopted thresholds of significance to assist in the review of projects under the California Environmental Quality Act. These Thresholds are designed to establish the level at which the District believed air pollution emissions would cause significant environmental impacts under CEQA and were posted on the Air District’s website and included in the Air District's updated CEQA Guidelines (updated May 2012). The Thresholds are advisory and may be followed by local agencies at their own discretion.

The Thresholds were challenged in court. Following litigation in the trial court, the court of appeal, and the California Supreme Court, all of the Thresholds were upheld. However, in an opinion issued on December 17, 2015, the California Supreme Court held that CEQA does not generally require an analysis of the impacts of locating development in areas subject to environmental hazards unless the project would exacerbate existing environmental hazards. The Supreme Court also found that CEQA requires the analysis of exposing people to environmental hazards in specific circumstances, including the location of development near airports, schools near sources of toxic contamination, and certain exemptions for infill and workforce housing. The Supreme Court also held that public agencies remain free to conduct this analysis regardless of whether it is required by CEQA.

In view of the Supreme Court’s opinion, local agencies may rely on Thresholds designed to reflect the impact of locating development near areas of toxic air contamination where such an analysis is required by CEQA or where the agency has determined that such an analysis would assist in making a decision about the project. However, the Thresholds are not mandatory and agencies should apply them only after determining that they reflect an appropriate measure of a project’s impacts.

The Guidelines for implementation of the Thresholds are for information purposes only to assist local agencies. Recommendations in the Guidelines are advisory and should be followed by local governments at their own discretion. These Guidelines may inform environmental review for development projects in the Bay Area, but do not commit local governments or the Air District to any specific course of regulatory action.

The Air District published a new version of the Guidelines dated May 2017, which includes revisions made to address the Supreme Court’s opinion. The May 2017 Guidelines update does not address outdated references, links, analytical methodologies or other technical information that may be in the Guidelines or Thresholds Justification Report. The Air District is currently working to revise any outdated information in the Guidelines as part of its update to the CEQA Guidelines and thresholds of significance. Please contact Jaclyn Winkel (see Contact Us box at bottom of page) for further information.

The table below includes the current version of the Air District’s CEQA Guidelines along with previous draft versions.

CEQA Guidelines

Date PostedCEQA GuidelinesRelated DocumentsResourcestable-mobile-only-column
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5/9/2017CEQA Guidelines May 2017
N/AN/A
5/9/2017
CEQA Guidelines:
CEQA Guidelines May 2017
Related Documents:
N/A
Resources:
N/A
5/31/2012BAAQMD CEQA Guidelines_Final_May 2012
N/ATools & Methodology
5/31/2012
CEQA Guidelines:
BAAQMD CEQA Guidelines_Final_May 2012
Related Documents:
N/A
Resources:
5/3/2010Draft CEQA Guidelines May 2010
CEQA Guidelines Update Changes_May 27 2010 Final Draft


CEQA Comments and Responses from Workshops_May 2010


Summary Table Proposed CEQA TOS May 2010


Proposed TOS Report May 2010
Tools & Methodology
5/3/2010
CEQA Guidelines:
Draft CEQA Guidelines May 2010
Related Documents:
CEQA Guidelines Update Changes_May 27 2010 Final Draft


CEQA Comments and Responses from Workshops_May 2010


Summary Table Proposed CEQA TOS May 2010


Proposed TOS Report May 2010
Resources:
12/7/2009Draft BAAQMD CEQA Guidelines (12/09)
Tracked Revisions to CEQA Guidelines (12/09)


Proposed Thresholds of Significance (12/09)


Potential Revisions to Risk Thresholds (12/09)
N/A
12/7/2009
CEQA Guidelines:
Draft BAAQMD CEQA Guidelines (12/09)
Related Documents:
Tracked Revisions to CEQA Guidelines (12/09)


Proposed Thresholds of Significance (12/09)


Potential Revisions to Risk Thresholds (12/09)
Resources:
N/A
11/11/2009Final Draft CEQA Guidelines (11/09)
Public Review Comments and Responses (11/09)


Proposed CEQA Thresholds of Significance (11/09)
N/A
11/11/2009
CEQA Guidelines:
Final Draft CEQA Guidelines (11/09)
Related Documents:
Public Review Comments and Responses (11/09)


Proposed CEQA Thresholds of Significance (11/09)
Resources:
N/A

Contact Us

Jaclyn Winkel
Principal Environmental Planner, Planning and Research

415.749.4933

Contact Us

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