Skip to content

CEQA Thresholds and Review Principles

On October 13, 2016, the District Board of Directors adopted the Review of Land Use Projects under CEQA Policy (Policy). The Policy establishes the thresholds of significance for criteria pollutants as well as greenhouse gases and the review principles which serve as guidelines for the District staff when the District acts as a commenting agency to review and comment on the environmental documents prepared by the lead agencies.

Thresholds of Significance

The part of the Board’s adoption establishes the thresholds of significance for criteria pollutants and greenhouse gases. In developing the thresholds, the District took into account health-based air quality standards and the strategies to attain air quality standards, historical CEQA project review data in Placer County, statewide regulations to achieve emission reduction targets for GHG, and the special geographic and land use features in Placer County. The following two tables present the thresholds of significance for criteria pollutants and GHG, which are identified in the Policy.

Criteria Pollutants

Graphic of the Criteria Pollutant Thresholds

Greenhouse Gases

Graphic of the Greenhouse Gas Thresholds

      1) Bright-line Threshold is for the construction and operational phase of land use projects and stationary source projects,

      2) Efficiency Matrix is for the operational phase of land use projects with GHG emissions exceeding the De Minimis level, and

      3) De Minimis Level is for the operational phase of land use projects.

The District prepared the CEQA Thresholds of Significance Justification Report which contains the rationale, the modeling analyses, and the pertinent factual data used to justify and support the thresholds of significance developed by the District.

Review Principles

The review principles listed in the Policy summarize the existing practices established by the District’s CEQA review program. They serve as guidelines used by District staff when the District acts as a commenting agency to review and comment on the environmental documents prepared by lead agencies. The principles also serve as the basis for District staff to recommend on-site and off-site mitigation measures for land use projects when concerns are identified pertaining to the air quality. When an off-site mitigation measure is considered by lead agencies, the review principles provide land use project applicant how to implement an off-site mitigation measure and what options for the implementation of off-site mitigation measures. The principles for the implementation of off-site mitigation measures are summarized as follows:

Criteria pollutants

Recommend that the mitigation measure should explicitly identify the anticipated emission reductions and the method to implement;

Recommend that the anticipated emission reductions from the mitigation measure implementation be calculated by one of the following scenarios:

  1. If the measure is applied as a feasible measure to offset additional emissions, the anticipated emission reduction shall be calculated based on the amount of emissions exceeding the thresholds for a single season (summer for ozone precursors or winter for PM10), or
  2. If the measure is applied to support a “less-than-significant” conclusion, the anticipated emission reduction shall be calculated based on the total amount of emissions exceeding the thresholds for each season, until the year in which the project’s operational emissions will be equal to the thresholds, or for a maximum of 20 seasons.

Recommend that the off-site mitigation measure for criteria pollutants be implemented by one of the following methods:

  1. The applicant can propose its own off-site mitigation project, which is verified by the District that the proposed project will result in an equivalent emission reduction identified by the mitigation measure, or
  2. The applicant can pay a mitigation fee, which is calculated based on the anticipated emission reduction and cost-effectiveness identified by the most current California Air Resources Board (CARB) Carl Moyer Program Guidance.

Manage any received off-site mitigation funds under the Board’s approved “Land Use Air Quality Mitigation Funds Policy”, to fund eligible emission reduction projects, with the District Board’s approval.

Greenhouse Gases

Recommend that the mitigation measure should explicitly identify the anticipated emission reductions and the method to implement;

Recommend that the anticipated emission reductions from the mitigation measure implementation be calculated by one of the following methods;

  1. If the measure is applied as a feasible measure, the anticipated emission reduction shall be calculated based on the amount of emissions exceeding the thresholds for one year, or
  2. If the measure is applied to support a “less-than-significant” conclusion, the anticipated emission reduction shall be calculated based on the total amount of emissions exceeding the threshold for each year, until the year in which the project’s emissions will be equal to the threshold, or for a maximum of 20 years.

Recommend that the off-site mitigation measure for GHG emissions be implemented by one of the following methods:

  1. The applicant can propose its own off-site mitigation project which generates carbon credits equivalent to the anticipated emission reductions and is implemented by an approved protocol from California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA), California Air Resources Board, or other similar entities determined acceptable by the District, or
  2. The applicant can purchase carbon credits from the CAPCOA GHG Reduction Exchange Program, American Carbon Registry (ACR), Climate Action Reserve (CAR), or other similar carbon credit registry as determined acceptable by the District.

Encourage the applicant to consider generating or purchasing local and California-only carbon credits as the preferred mechanism to implement the off-site mitigation measure for GHG emissions and facilitate the State to achieve the GHG emission reduction goal; and

Assist lead agencies with reviewing and verifying that the carbon credits, from either the proposed off-site mitigation projects or the purchase certification from the selected carbon credit registries, and ensure the credits are retired.

The purpose of the adopted Policy is to ensure consistency and transparency in staffs' reviews and recommendations, which assists lead agencies in preparing legally adequate environmental documents with professional analyses to address potential air quality impacts from land use projects

Questions can be sent via: Email: pcapcd-ceqa@placer.ca.gov

Top