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Environmental Impact Assessment Reports

General Information

California requirements for assessing the environmental impact of projects date from 1970 with the enactment of the California Environmental Quality Act. CEQA requires that state and local agencies consider the environmental impact of their decisions when approving a public or private project. 

As an initial step in the process, an Initial Study may be prepared that determines whether a full environmental review is needed or just a Negative Declaration which indicates that there will be no adverse effects on the environment. If the initial report determines that there will be a significant impact a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is prepared and made available to the public and other agencies for review and comment. This is subsequently followed by a Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The final EIR does not supersede the draft EIR because the final version typically cites information included in the draft. The final step in the process is the filing of a Notice of Determination (NOD).

There are approximately 500 environmental impact reports (EIRs) prepared annually under the California Environmental Quality Act. Summary of Postings lists the number of CEQA reports by type that have been filed annually since 1999.

Guides to California Assessement Laws and Methodology

CEQA: the California Environmental Quality Act (Governor's Office of Planning and Research) is the CEQA site that includes current CEQA statutes, legislative history, guidelines, case law, and other general reference material.

Other publications and websites that contain information on California assessment laws and methodology include:

  • California Environmental and Natural Resources Law Handbook (Monahan) 2004 (ref KFC 610 A45 C35) Guide to the statutes, regulations, court decisions, and agency policies that makeup California's environmental regulatory schema. Includes a section on CEQA.

  • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Statute and Guidelines (Association of Environmental Professionals)

  • CEQA Deskbook: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (Bass, Herson, & Bogdan) 1999 (ref KFC 610 S83 1999)

  • Citizen's Guide to the California Environmental Quality Act (Yeates) 1997 (ref KFC 610 Y4 1997)

  • Environmental Impact Report (California Department of Transportation) Discusses the preparation and processing of an EIR in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act. 

  • Guide to CEQA: California Environmental Quality Act (Remy, Thomas, Moose, & Manley) 2007 (ref KFC 610 G85 2007)

  • State Clearinghouse Handbook (California Office of Planning and Research. State Clearinghouse) A technical guide for lead and responsible agencies, project proponents, and the public on clearinghouse procedures for preparing and reviewing environmental documents.

Finding California Environmental Impact Assessment Reports in the HSU Library

Most of the California environmental impact assessment reports available in the Library are locally focused, are located in Special Collections on the third floor, and are Library Use Only. In addition, there are a few reports located in the California Documents Collection and in the general book stacks. Of the 500 EIRs produced annually in California, the Library only acquires approximately seven reports each year.

The following options can be used to locate California environmental impact assessment reports (draft and final environmental impact reports, initial studies, negative declarations, and NODs) in the Library:

  • Search the library catalog through OneSearch. Almost all California environmental impact assessment reports available in the Library are indexed in the catalog. There currently are 180 EIRs, 30 Initial Studies, and 20 Negative Declarations listed in the catalog. To search the catalog you can:
    • Use the Keyword search option to enter the keyword phrase for the type of assessment report you are looking, e.g., "environmental impact report" .
    • Use the Keyword search option to enter the keyword phrase for the type of assessment report you are looking for along with a subject keyword, e.g. entering "environmental impact report" AND wastewater will retrieve all EIRs dealing with wastewater that are listed in the catalog.
  • Consult the Index of Environmental Impact Reports Prepared in Humboldt County, CA (TD 194.5 I53 HumCo Collection). This work contains a comprehensive list of EIRs prepared in Humboldt County from 1970 to 1995 and lists local libraries and agencies that have copies available.
  • Look in the Humboldt County Pamphlet Collection in Special Collections where some Negative Declarations are filed under Environmental Impact Reports - Negative Declarations.

Finding California Environmental Impact Assessment Reports In Other Libraries & on the Internet

The following sources can be used to identify environmental impact assessment reports produced under CEQA. If not available full-text on the Internet they can be requested on Interlibrary Loan from other libraries which takes an average of nine calendar days to arrive.

  • CEQAnet Database (California Office of Planning and Research. State Clearinghouse) Contains key information for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) documents submitted to the State Clearinghouse for state review since 1990. The database provides summaries of Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs), Negative Declarations, Environmental Impact Statements, and other types of CEQA and NEPA documents. The summaries include the project title, project location, lead agency name, contact information, and project description. CEQAnet does not provide the full text of any environmental documents. The bimonthly State Clearinghouse Newsletter provides a listing of all environmental documents, federal notices, and federal grant applications that have been submitted to the State Clearinghouse.

  • Natural Resources - Agencies (Library Special Collections) Includes links to local government agencies, some of whom include links to environmental assessment full-text documents.

  • WorldCat Indexes holdings of libraries in California and throughout the world. Enter 1) a keyword phrase for the type of assessment report you are looking for; 2) a subject keyword; and 3) California for the geographic area, e.g. entering "environmental impact report" AND wastewater AND California will retrieve all EIRs dealing with wastewater in California that are listed in WorldCat.