BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                               AB 2565
                                                                       

                      SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
                        Senator S. Joseph Simitian, Chairman
                              2009-2010 Regular Session
                                           
           BILL NO:    AB 2565
           AUTHOR:     Ammiano
           AMENDED:    June 17, 2010
           FISCAL:     Yes               HEARING DATE:     June 28, 2010
           URGENCY:    No                CONSULTANT:       Randy Pestor
            
           SUBJECT  :    CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY ACT

            SUMMARY  :    
           
            Existing law  :

           1) Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA):

              a)    Requires a lead agency preparing an environmental  
                 impact report (EIR) or negative declaration to provide  
                 public notice specifying the period during which  
                 comments will be received on the draft EIR or negative  
                 declaration; the date, time, and place of any public  
                 meetings or hearings on the proposed project; a brief  
                 description of the proposed project and its location;  
                 the significant effects on the environment, if any,  
                 anticipated by the project; and the address where copies  
                 of the draft environmental impact report or negative  
                 declaration, and all documents referenced in the draft  
                 EIR or negative declaration, are available for review.   
                 (Public Resources Code 21092(b)).

              b)    Authorizes a lead agency to charge and collect a  
                 reasonable fee from any person proposing a project in  
                 order to recover the estimated costs incurred by the  
                 lead agency in preparing a negative declaration or an  
                 EIR, and for procedures necessary to comply with CEQA.   
                 (21089).

           2) Under the California Public Records Act, requires an agency  
              to make a public record available in an electronic format  
              if the public record is in an electronic format.  The cost  
              of duplication must be limited to the direct cost of  









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              producing a copy of a record in an electronic format.   
              (Government Code 6253.9)

            This bill  , under CEQA:

           1) Authorizes public agencies to charge and collect a  
              reasonable fee from members of the public for a copy of an  
              environmental document not to exceed the cost of  
              reproducing the environmental document.  The environmental  
              document may also be provided in an electronic format as  
              provided under the Public Records Act (#2 above).

           2) Defines "environmental document" (e.g., initial study,  
              negative declaration, draft and final EIR). 

            COMMENTS  :

            1) Purpose of Bill  .  According to the author, "While  
              hardcopies of CEQA documents are certainly necessary for  
              Planning Departments to review and mark-up documents, as  
              well as for members of the public who do not have access to  
              a computer, under some circumstances, digital copies of  
              CEQA documents would be appropriate to save paper and the  
              cost of implementing CEQA reporting.  This legislation  
              provides the option for lead agencies . . . to make CEQA  
              documents available . . . through other digital formats  
              (compact discs, e-mail attachments, or other digital  
              transfers) to interested and responsible parties."

            2) Brief background on CEQA  .  CEQA provides a process for  
              evaluating the environmental effects of a project, and  
              includes statutory exemptions, as well as categorical  
              exemptions in the CEQA guidelines.  If a project is not  
              exempt from CEQA, an initial study is prepared to determine  
              whether a project may have a significant effect on the  
              environment.  If the initial study shows that there would  
              not be a significant effect on the environment, the lead  
              agency must prepare a negative declaration.  If the initial  
              study shows that the project may have a significant effect  
              on the environment, the lead agency must prepare an EIR.

           Generally, an EIR must accurately describe the proposed  










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              project, identify and analyze each significant  
              environmental impact expected to result from the proposed  
              project, identify mitigation measures to reduce those  
              impacts to the extent feasible, and evaluate a range of  
              reasonable alternatives to the proposed project.  Prior to  
              approving any project that has received environmental  
              review, an agency must make certain findings.  If  
              mitigation measures are required or incorporated into a  
              project, the agency must adopt a reporting or monitoring  
              program to ensure compliance with those measures.

           If a mitigation measure would cause one or more significant  
              effects in addition to those that would be caused by the  
              proposed project, the effects of the mitigation measure  
              must be discussed but in less detail than the significant  
              effects of the proposed project.

            3) Clarifying procedures relating to provision of  
              environmental documents  .  CEQA requires notice regarding  
              certain matters, including the address where copies of the  
              draft EIR or negative declaration, and all documents  
              referenced in the draft EIR or negative declaration, are  
              available for review.  The CEQA guidelines authorize public  
              agencies to charge and collect a reasonable fee for a copy  
              of an environmental document that does not exceed the  
              actual cost of reproducing a copy.  (15045(b)).

           AB 2565 adds this authority to CEQA and provides a definition  
              of "environmental document" that is similar to the  
              definition of that term in the CEQA guidelines (15361).   
              AB 2565 also allows the environmental document to be  
              provided in an electronic format in the same manner as  
              provided under the California Public Records Act.

            SOURCE  :        San Francisco Public Utilities Commission  

           SUPPORT  :       Association of California Water Agencies, Bay  
                          Area Air Quality Management District,  
                          California Association of Sanitation Agencies,  
                          California Special Districts Association,  
                          Camarillo, East Bay Municipal Utility District,  
                          Regional Council of Rural Counties, Santa  










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                          Barbara  

           OPPOSITION  :    None on file