By William W. Abbott
A continuing reoccurring question for CEQA practitioners is: when is it appropriate to rely upon the regulatory scheme and permitting steps of independent regulatory agencies? The most ready criticism of that practice is that it involves deferred mitigation. That criticism has to be balanced against the recognition that subsequent to the enactment of CEQA, that there now exists a myriad number of local, state and federal regulatory agencies with special regulations and expertise and CEQA should integrate with existing regulatory practices where issues overlap. As the decision in Citizens Opposing a Dangerous Environment v. County of Kern (2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 360 illustrates, perhaps an easier case can be made for regulatory reliance when a CEQA lead agency relies upon a federal agency with exclusive regulatory authority.