A Statutory Exemption completely releases a project from CEQA and are absolute. If a project is granted an exemption, there are no exceptions and the project’s environmental review is complete. 

Statutory Exemptions are written and adopted by the State Legislature and are found in the State CEQA Guidelines, the Public Resources Code, and in several other California Codes.   

Examples of Statutory Exemptions

Statutory Exemptions include categories and specific projects, including:

  • Ministerial Projects: These project use objective standards and do not require much judgement in decision-making. An example of a Ministerial Project is the issuance of a license. (CEQA Statute Sections 21080(b)(1) and State CEQA Guidelines Sections 15268 and 15369)  
  • Emergency Projects:  These require urgent action to reduce the risks to life and property. An example of an Emergency Project is the clearing of a road following a landslide. (CEQA Statute Sections 21080(b)(2)-(4) and State CEQA Guidelines Section 15269) 
  • Disapproved Projects: Projects that have been rejected by government agencies. These exemptions are intended to allow quick disapprovals from the agency before the CEQA process begins unnecessarily. (Public Resource Code Section 21080(b)(5) and State CEQA Guidelines Section 15270(a)) 

A number of  specific types of projects may also be given Statutory Exemptions, such as Financial Assistance for Low Income Housing and the Olympic Games. More can be found in the State CEQA Guidelines Sections 15260 to 15285.