Environmental Review Process

The information that follows is a brief overview of the environmental review process as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  For complete information, please visit the Governors Office of Planning and Research. 


What is CEQA?


CEQA (pronounced see-kwa) is a law enacted in 1970 for the protection of environmental resources. It requires California agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and describes measures to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible.


What is a Lead Agency?


A Lead Agency is the public agency that has the primary responsibility for approving a project that may have a significant impact the environment. The Lead Agency for the Lime Rock Valley Specific Plan is the County of El Dorado.


What is an EIR and why is it prepared?


An EIR (Environmental Impact Report) is a document required by CEQA when a Lead Agency determines that a proposed project may have a significant effect on the environment. The County has determined that an EIR is needed for the Lime Rock Valley Specific Plan and the EIR will describe the proposed specific plan project, the existing environmental conditions, the impacts from construction and operation of the proposed project, mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate impacts, alternatives to the proposed project, and cumulative impacts. At a minimum, the EIR is expected to address the following elements:


      • Land use
      • Traffic and Transportation
      • Noise
      • Aesthetics and Visual Impacts
      • Air Quality
      • Biological Resources
      • Cultural Resources
      • Soils and Geology
      • Hydrology and Water Quality
      • Water Supply
      • Utilities and Public Services
      • Population, Jobs, and Housing
      • Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions


Information in the Draft EIR enables decision-makers, interested parties and the public to evaluate the proposed project and its environmental effects prior to decision-making, discusses ways to mitigate or avoid environmental impacts, and discloses to the public any potentially unavoidable impacts.


How does the public participate in the EIR process?


A Notice of Preparation (NOP) is issued at the beginning of the environmental review process to inform agencies and interested parties of a Lead Agency's decision to prepare an Environmental Impact Report. The NOP is circulated for a 30-day review period, followed by a public Scoping Meeting. The purpose of the NOP and Scoping Meeting is to solicit input from agencies and interested parties, and identify the scope of the potential environmental impacts. All comments received by the Lead Agency during the NOP/Scoping phase will be considered during the preparation of the EIR.

Several months after the NOP and Scoping Meeting, the Lead Agency prepares and releases a Draft EIR (DEIR) in hard copy or electronic format for public review for 45 days. During this 45-day review period, the public, agencies, and other stakeholders may voice their opinions by submitting written comments to the Lead Agency.


What happens to the public comments that are received?


Under CEQA, the Lead Agency must respond to each written comment received during the DEIR review period. Each individual comment is evaluated for relevance to the DEIR and a response is prepared. In some instances, a comment may result in revision to the DEIR. The collection of comments and responses together with the DEIR constitute the Final EIR (FEIR). The FEIR must then be certified by the Lead Agency as adequate and in compliance with CEQA before it can approve a project.


What happens at the conclusion of the FEIR?


The FEIR includes all written comments received during the DEIR review period, including the Response to Comments and any revisions made resulting from public input. The FEIR is presented to the County's Planning Commission, which then votes on a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors to approve or deny the project.  The Board of Supervisors then votes whether to approve the project.