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All About CEQA

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was enacted in 1970 to supplement the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). Passed a year earlier, NEPA requires federal agencies to evaluate the environmental effects of potential projects before approving them. CEQA provides similar protection at the state level, and requires agencies to mitigate those effects where feasible.

As an extension of NEPA, CEQA’s overarching purpose is to monitor and minimize human impact on the environment. The statute’s long reach protects resources both natural (drinking water, clean air, endangered species) and educational (historical and archaeological sites). In practice, CEQA is exercised most commonly in land development projects.

Before approving a project, California’s public agencies must first determine if it is subject to CEQA, following guidelines maintained by the Secretary for Resources. Public agencies are entrusted to rightfully determine what does or doesn’t fall under CEQA – the Resources Agency does not monitor their decisions. CEQA is enforced solely through public litigation.

There are two minimum requirements for a project to be subject to CEQA:

  1. It must have potential to physically affect the environment.
  2. It must involve some form of discretion by a public agency, such as approving a permit or proposal. (Non-discretionary actions like marriage or dog licenses are not subject to CEQA.)

If a project fulfills both these requirements, the agency leading the approval process conducts an initial study to determine if the project will significantly affect the environment. Here again, agencies are responsible for determining what qualifies as “significant.”

If the initial study projects no significant environmental impact, the lead agency publishes a Negative Declaration to that effect and is free to approve the proposal.

Feral Cats: Living Outdoors for Thousands of Years

Domestic cats came into existence about 10,000 years ago, when humans began farming. Cats were attracted to the rodents found near stored grain. Ever since then, cats have lived in close proximity to people.

Until the invention of cat litter in the 1940s, there was simply no concept of keeping cats strictly indoors. Feral cats are a natural part of the landscape, and have been for thousands of years. They can be found all over, in every setting -- including the most urban, like Los Angeles.

In a Trap-Neuter-Return program, feral cats are trapped to be neutered. But they are not “placed into the environment.” They are returned to their natural home.

Print and post the Los Angeles Cares about Cats poster to show your support for L.A.'s stray and feral cats!

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