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The Environmental Component

Environmental Documentation
PDF Icon National Fire Plan/Community Assistance Grant - DOI Federal Environmental Compliance Guide (65K PDF)
PDF Icon Environmental Laws (24K PDF)
PDF Icon Environmental Directory, Technical Assistance Programs (Office of Emergency Services) (3.3MB PDF)

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (Per Dinah Bear, General Counsel, Council on Environmental Quality)

"Funding assistance to states that is in a manner that leaves decision making to the state, with no federal agency decision as to specific projects and no further control over the use of the funds, does not trigger NEPA." She further states, "The rationale for this is simple. The NEPA process is meant to inform a federal agency's decision making; hence, if there is no federal decision making, those requirements do not apply." She continues, "... the Endangered Species Act is broader in that it covers any act, federal or otherwise, that may affect a listed species."

Note: CEQA assessment does apply to all CAL FIRE projects undertaken with National Fire Plan funds, either through an existing Program EIR or through individual assessment. The Endangered Species Act and Antiquities Act apply to all CAL FIRE Pre-Fire projects.

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CEQA and Fire Safe Councils (Per Norm Hill, CAL FIRE Legal Counsel)

CEQA applies to decisions by state and local governmental agencies to carry out or approve projects that have the potential for causing significant environmental effects. As I understand the situation, fire safe councils are not governmental agencies. They are informal groups that work to coordinate fire safety activities of public and private entities, but a fire safe council itself is not an agency with powers granted by the State Legislature or by a local legislative body. While the council may have representatives from State and local agencies, these representatives do not make the council a public agency.

As a result, decisions of a fire safe council are not subject to CEQA. However, if an activity sponsored by a fire safe council needs approval, financing, or efforts directly undertaken by a state or local public agency, the public agency would need to address CEQA compliance with its actions.

The application of the National Environmental Policy Act, (NEPA) which is the federal counterpart of CEQA, raises other issues. NEPA applies to decisions by federal agencies.

Note: The Fire Safe Councils have been advised that the Endangered Species Act and the Antiquities Act may apply to their projects. It is their responsibility to consult with local experts to determine if an environmental assessment is needed and what steps need to be taken for compliance with the Antiquities and Endangered Species Acts. Those who accept grant funds are accountable and responsible for their actions.

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