Environmental Regulation



The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), passed in 1970, is an extraordinarily complex and all-encompassing environmental law. CEQA and its multitude of substantive and procedural requirements are implicated for nearly every type of land use project in the State of California, including, but not limited to, housing and mixed-use developments, hazardous waste facilities, mining operations, renewable energy and school facilities, as well as quasi-legislative approvals such as zoning amendments, general plan updates, and regional transportation plans.

Unlike its federal counterpart—the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA)—CEQA contains a substantive mandate that prevents public agencies from approving projects with potentially significant environmental impacts if there are feasible mitigation measures that would eliminate or substantially reduce those impacts. In addition to its substantive mandate, CEQA contains comprehensive procedural requirements. The cornerstone of CEQA’s procedural requirements is public participation. CEQA provides the public with ample opportunity to review and comment on the environmental document beginning from its draft stage, all the way through the day on which the final environmental document is certified. In discussing the significant role of public participation in the CEQA process, the California Supreme Court has stated that CEQA “protects not only the environment but also informed self-government.”
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

Related Business Issues:

Consumer Products Reformulation


Oversee issues related to the environment, such as air quality, climate change and AB 32 implementation, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Proposition 65 and green chemistry, hazardous and solid waste, surface mining and land use issues. Recommend policies that meet the mutual objectives of protecting human health and the environment while conserving the financial resources of business to the fullest extent possible in order to help California businesses grow and promote their technologies/services.


AB 2588 Air Toxics Risk Assessment Guidelines

California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool

Major Victories

  • Stopped economic development barrier in 2014, such as significantly limiting in-state energy development by allowing local moratoriums on well stimulation treatments (AB 2420, SB 1132);


  • Halted in 2014 a dramatic increase in nuisance-based pollution penalties for nonvehicular air quality violations. (SB 691);

  • Legislation in 2014 that would have created more opportunities for litigation and ubstantially increased project cost and delay by creating mandatory consultation requirements with Native American Tribes was significantly amended to be more workable (AB 52); and the most onerous provisions were amended out of a proposal to double penalties issued by the state air board, regional air districts and the Department of Toxic Substances Control (AB 1330).
  • Halted in 2013 new double penalties for most air/environmental citations at facilities in disadvantaged regions of the state (AB 1330);

  • Supported bills making a start toward California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) reform by exempting roadway projects and bike lanes in existing roadways from the CEQA process (AB 890, AB 2245).

  • Halted expensive unnecessary regulatory burdens, such as an expanded waste bureaucracy in 2010 (AB 479, AB 737) and a 2012 vote rejecting a ban on the use of polystyrene foam food containers (SB 568); and in 2013 an expansion of reasons to sue under the California Environmental Quality Act (SB 617, SB 754).

  • Supported four bills signed into law in 2010 that will lead to increased construction jobs by streamlining the California Environmental Quality Act process for certain projects (AB 1846); authorizing use of design-build by the Riverside County Transportation Commission (AB 2098); creating construction jobs building travel infrastructure (SB 1192); and ensuring expedited permitting of environmentally sound solar thermal projects (SBX3 34). 

Issue Summaries

Endangered Species
Position: The CalChamber supports reforms to state and federal laws that achieve a balanced approach between environmental protection and social economic progress. Environmental regulations should be based on sound science, subject to peer review. Economic impacts should be evaluated to ensure that the benefits outweigh the social costs of imposing mitigation measures. Endangered Species

Hazardous Waste Permitting
Position: The California Chamber of Commerce supports treating, storing, and disposing hazardous waste in California, where environmental protection protocols are more rigid than in other states. To this end, the CalChamber endorses California’s policy of managing its own hazardous waste and not exporting it to other states or nations, where protocols are either nonexistent or far less stringent. Hazardous Waste Permitting

Mineral Resources Extraction
Position: The CalChamber agrees with the overall purpose of the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA). We also are mindful that SMARA, like any comprehensive land use law, requires periodic updating. Understanding that demand for construction aggregate is expected to rise due to California’s increasing infrastructure needs, any refinements to SMARA must not hinder the construction aggregate industry’s ability to produce construction aggregates and other industrial minerals. Further, local sources of aggregate are needed in order to achieve California’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. 
Mineral Resources Extraction

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Policy Contact

Anthony SamsonAnthony Samson
Policy Advocate
Environmental Regulation,
Housing and Land Use,
Surface Mining