California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

CEQA is an environmental law that is intended to inform governmental decision-makers and the public about potential environmental effects of a project; identify ways to reduce adverse impacts; offer alternatives to the project; and disclose to the public why a project was approved. For a large project like Quemetco’s throughput increase request, an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is prepared.

Any discretionary permit application submitted to the South Coast AQMD is reviewed under CEQA prior to permit issuance (See, Public Resources Code section 21000 et seq.). If issuing the permit may potentially have a direct or indirect impact on the environment, South Coast AQMD will prepare an EIR.  The EIR process involves several steps. The first step is the preparation of an Initial Study and Notice of Preparation (NOP/IS), which provides public notice of South Coast AQMD’s intent to prepare an EIR and identifies which of the potential environmental topic areas are proposed for analysis. The NOP/IS is available for a minimum 30-day public comment period.  A public Scoping Meeting is also held to further solicit public input on the analysis that should be included in the EIR.

The second step is the preparation of a Draft EIR. The Draft EIR describes the project being evaluated, provides a detailed analysis of the environmental topic areas identified in the NOP/IS as potentially significant, and evaluates mitigation measures and alternatives to eliminate or reduce any potentially significant adverse impacts. Once the Draft EIR is complete and ready for public review, South Coast AQMD files a Notice of Completion and Draft EIR is available for a minimum 45-day public comment period. South Coast AQMD staff reviews all comments submitted during the comment period, prepares responses to comments, and modifies the EIR as needed. This information is used to prepare a Final EIR. Finally, the EIR is submitted for final review and to determine whether to certify or not certify the Final EIR.  For permitting projects, the decision-maker is generally the Executive Officer. The Final EIR must be certified prior to issuing permits.

Quemetco CEQA Analysis

South Coast AQMD has prepared a Draft EIR for Quemetco’s request to increase their throughput, which is called the Capacity Upgrade Project (Project).  The Draft EIR has been released for an extended public review and comment period from October 14, 2021 to February 15, 2022. Potential impacts to air quality and greenhouse gas emissions, energy, hazards and hazardous materials, hydrology and water quality, and transportation were evaluated in the Draft EIR and the analysis concluded that the proposed Project would have less than significant impacts in each of these environmental topic areas.  

Prior to the Draft EIR, a NOP/IS was prepared and released for a 56-day public review and comment period from August 31, 2018 to October 25, 2018, and two CEQA Scoping Meetings were held in the community on September 13, 2018 and October 11, 2018.  During the NOP/IS public review period , South Coast AQMD received 30 comment letters specifically in response to the NOP/IS, 125 commenters provided written comments at CEQA Scoping Meeting #1, and 28 commenters provided oral comments at CEQA Scoping Meeting #2. These comments and responses are included in Appendix B of the Draft EIR.

South Coast AQMD will hold a second virtual public meeting to solicit public comment on the Draft EIR and the draft permits on February 9, 2022 at 6:00 p.m

For more information about the CEQA analysis and virtual public meeting, please visit the following webpage:


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