The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) has announced the availability of a discussion draft of proposed changes to Appendix G of the CEQA Guidelines incorporating tribal cultural resources, pursuant to Assembly Bill 52. (For more on AB 52, see our web report here). The discussion draft, available here, provides background on AB 52 and Appendix G, an explanation of the three alternatives put forth as draft questions about tribal cultural resources for inclusion in the initial study form, and information about effective public comment.
- AB 52: AB 52 went into effect in July 2015 and establishes tribal cultural resources as a new category of resources under CEQA. AB 52 also creates a process for consultation with California Native American Tribes in the CEQA process. Under the new law, tribal governments may request consultation with a lead agency and give input into potential impacts to tribal cultural resources. The Public Resources Code now requires avoiding damage to tribal cultural resources or mitigating impacts to the extent feasible. Additional information about AB 52 is available in OPR’s Draft Technical Advisory issued in May 2015.
- Appendix G: Appendix G in the CEQA Guidelines contains a sample initial study form, the purpose of which is to assist lead agencies in determining whether a project may cause a significant impact on the environment. Appendix G asks a series of questions regarding a range of environmental resources and potential impacts. As a result of AB 52, the sample environmental checklist form must be revised to include questions about tribal cultural resources.
- Three Alternatives: The discussion draft presents three alternative sets of draft Appendix G questions regarding tribal cultural resources. OPR drafted the alternatives following intensive outreach to California Native American Tribes, local governments, CEQA practitioners, and others. OPR now seeks further public input on the three alternatives, which vary as to the amount of detail:
- Alternative 1 is minimal and merely cites to the definition of tribal cultural resources in the Public Resources Code.
- Alternative 2 paraphrases the definition of tribal cultural resources, rather than simply providing a citation to the Public Resources Code.
- Alternative 3 is the most detailed. It creates a new section of Appendix G, titled Tribal Cultural Resources, and it includes introductory language for context, similar to the agricultural resources and air quality sections of Appendix G.
Comments on the discussion draft are due on December 18, 2015, and OPR will host a public workshop in Sacramento on December 11, 2015.