California Code, Public Resources Code - PRC § 21080.5

(a) Except as provided in Section 21158.1 , when the regulatory program of a state agency requires a plan or other written documentation containing environmental information and complying with paragraph (3) of subdivision (d) to be submitted in support of an activity listed in subdivision (b), the plan or other written documentation may be submitted in lieu of the environmental impact report required by this division if the Secretary of the Resources Agency has certified the regulatory program pursuant to this section.

(b) This section applies only to regulatory programs or portions thereof that involve either of the following:

(1) The issuance to a person of a lease, permit, license, certificate, or other entitlement for use.

(2) The adoption or approval of standards, rules, regulations, or plans for use in the regulatory program.

(c) A regulatory program certified pursuant to this section is exempt from Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 21100 ), Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 21150 ), and Section 21167 , except as provided in Article 2 (commencing with Section 21157 ) of Chapter 4.5.

(d) To qualify for certification pursuant to this section, a regulatory program shall require the utilization of an interdisciplinary approach that will ensure the integrated use of the natural and social sciences in decisionmaking and that shall meet all of the following criteria:

(1) The enabling legislation of the regulatory program does both of the following:

(A) Includes protection of the environment among its principal purposes.

(B) Contains authority for the administering agency to adopt rules and regulations for the protection of the environment, guided by standards set forth in the enabling legislation.

(2) The rules and regulations adopted by the administering agency for the regulatory program do all of the following:

(A) Require that an activity will not be approved or adopted as proposed if there are feasible alternatives or feasible mitigation measures available that would substantially lessen a significant adverse effect that the activity may have on the environment.

(B) Include guidelines for the orderly evaluation of proposed activities and the preparation of the plan or other written documentation in a manner consistent with the environmental protection purposes of the regulatory program.

(C) Require the administering agency to consult with all public agencies that have jurisdiction, by law, with respect to the proposed activity.

(D) Require that final action on the proposed activity include the written responses of the issuing authority to significant environmental points raised during the evaluation process.

(E) Require the filing of a notice of the decision by the administering agency on the proposed activity with the Secretary of the Resources Agency.  Those notices shall be available for public inspection, and a list of the notices shall be posted on a weekly basis in the Office of the Resources Agency.  Each list shall remain posted for a period of 30 days.

(F) Require notice of the filing of the plan or other written documentation to be made to the public and to a person who requests, in writing, notification.  The notification shall be made in a manner that will provide the public or a person requesting notification with sufficient time to review and comment on the filing.

(3) The plan or other written documentation required by the regulatory program does both of the following:

(A) Includes a description of the proposed activity with alternatives to the activity, and mitigation measures to minimize any significant adverse effect on the environment of the activity.

(B) Is available for a reasonable time for review and comment by other public agencies and the general public.

(e)(1) The Secretary of the Resources Agency shall certify a regulatory program that the secretary determines meets all the qualifications for certification set forth in this section, and withdraw certification on determination that the regulatory program has been altered so that it no longer meets those qualifications.  Certification and withdrawal of certification shall occur only after compliance with Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code .

(2) In determining whether or not a regulatory program meets the qualifications for certification set forth in this section, the inquiry of the secretary shall extend only to the question of whether the regulatory program meets the generic requirements of subdivision (d).  The inquiry may not extend to individual decisions to be reached under the regulatory program, including the nature of specific alternatives or mitigation measures that might be proposed to lessen any significant adverse effect on the environment of the activity.

(3) If the secretary determines that the regulatory program submitted for certification does not meet the qualifications for certification set forth in this section, the secretary shall adopt findings setting forth the reasons for the determination.

(f) After a regulatory program has been certified pursuant to this section, a proposed change in the program that could affect compliance with the qualifications for certification specified in subdivision (d) may be submitted to the Secretary of the Resources Agency for review and comment.  The scope of the secretary's review shall extend only to the question of whether the regulatory program meets the generic requirements of subdivision (d).  The review may not extend to individual decisions to be reached under the regulatory program, including specific alternatives or mitigation measures that might be proposed to lessen any significant adverse effect on the environment of the activity.  The secretary shall have 30 days from the date of receipt of the proposed change to notify the state agency whether the proposed change will alter the regulatory program so that it no longer meets the qualification for certification established in this section and will result in a withdrawal of certification as provided in this section.

(g) An action or proceeding to attack, review, set aside, void, or annul a determination or decision of a state agency approving or adopting a proposed activity under a regulatory program that has been certified pursuant to this section on the basis that the plan or other written documentation prepared pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (d) does not comply with this section shall be commenced not later than 30 days from the date of the filing of notice of the approval or adoption of the activity.

(h)(1) An action or proceeding to attack, review, set aside, void, or annul a determination of the Secretary of the Resources Agency to certify a regulatory program pursuant to this section on the basis that the regulatory program does not comply with this section shall be commenced within 30 days from the date of certification by the secretary.

(2) In an action brought pursuant to paragraph (1), the inquiry shall extend only to whether there was a prejudicial abuse of discretion by the secretary.  Abuse of discretion is established if the secretary has not proceeded in a manner required by law or if the determination is not supported by substantial evidence.

(i) For purposes of this section, a county agricultural commissioner is a state agency.

(j) For purposes of this section, an air quality management district or air pollution control district is a state agency, except that the approval, if any, by a district of a nonattainment area plan is subject to this section only if, and to the extent that, the approval adopts or amends rules or regulations.

(k)(1) The secretary, by July 1, 2004, shall develop a protocol for reviewing the prospective application of certified regulatory programs to evaluate the consistency of those programs with the requirements of this division.  Following the completion of the development of the protocol, the secretary shall provide a report to the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality and the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources regarding the need for a grant of additional statutory authority authorizing the secretary to undertake a review of the certified regulatory programs.

(2) The secretary may update the protocol, and may update the report provided to the legislative committees pursuant to paragraph (1) and provide, in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code , the updated report to those committees if additional statutory authority is needed.

(3) The secretary shall provide a significant opportunity for public participation in developing or updating the protocol described in paragraph (1) or (2), including, but not limited to, at least two public meetings with interested parties.  A notice of each meeting shall be provided at least 10 days prior to the meeting to a person who files a written request for a notice with the agency and to the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality and the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources.


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