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 is preparing an EIR for Quemetco’s request to increase their throughput, which is called the Capacity Upgrade Project.  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.  A total of 154 written comments were received, of which 127 were received during the scoping meetings.  In addition, 28 people provided oral testimony during the scoping meetings and 4 oral comments were provided at the South Coast AQMD Governing Board meeting held in January 2019.  South Coast AQMD is currently in the process of responding to the written and oral comments and preparing the Draft EIR.  The Draft EIR for the Quemetco Capacity Upgrade Project will evaluate potential environmental impacts for the following five environmental topics: (1) air quality and greenhouse gases, (2) energy, (3) hazards and hazardous materials, (4) hydrology and water quality, and (5) transportation and traffic. The NOP/IS and comments received did not identify potentially significant environmental impacts for the remaining CEQA environmental topics.

Once the Draft EIR is complete, South Coast AQMD will file a Notice of Completion and give the public notice of availability of the Draft EIR.  South Coast AQMD will hold a public consultation meeting to solicit public comment on the Draft EIR.  A meeting date will be provided in the Notice of Completion of the Draft EIR. 

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