California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). California’s landmark environmental protection law that requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions (including approval of private development proposals) and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible.
Land Use Permit (LUP). Land Use Permits is a local land use entitlement that is required in in Contra Costa County for a surface mining operation. A Land Use Permit is the equivalent of a conditional use permit.
Mean Sea Level (MSL). The height of the ground relative to the average sea level.
Environmental Impact Report (EIR). A detailed report written by the lead agency describing and analyzing the significant environmental effects of a proposed project, identifying alternatives and discussing ways to reduce or avoid the possible environmental damage. The EIR process begins with the circulation of a Notice of Preparation (NOP) of a Draft EIR, which informs the public and government agencies that an EIR is being prepared for a project.
Reclamation Plan. A document required by the California Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA) that establishes how mined land will be restored to a usable state that is beneficial to the public once mining is complete.
SMARA. California’s Surface Mining and Reclamation Act. Passed by the state of California in 1975, SMARA provides a comprehensive policy for the regulation of surface mining operations and establishes the process to restore the land to assure that adverse environmental impacts are minimized and mined lands are returned to a usable condition.
Vested rights. Under SMARA, vested rights to mine exist if, prior to January 1, 1976, an entity had diligently commenced surface mining operations and incurred substantial liabilities for work and materials necessary for the surface mining operations. A vested right holder does not need a permit to conduct surface mining operations, but does require a reclamation plan. Vested rights are also established when a land use such as mining is established prior to the onset of zoning regulations that would regulate such use.