Caltrans Environmental Compliance: Categorical Exemptions and Categorical Exclusions

The Caltrans Environmental Compliance Program for Local Agency Partners and Consultants is a program developed by the Caltrans Division of Environmental Analysis-Environmental Staff Development branch in partnership with UC Davis Extension to provide local agency partners and consultants with environmental compliance training to aid them in navigating Caltrans’ environmental process. The majority (generally over 95%) of environmental decisions for Caltrans and local agency-sponsored projects are accomplished through the use of a Categorical Exemption (CE) determination under CEQA and/or a Categorical Exclusion (CE) determination under NEPA. It is important that those performing or approving this work have a comprehensive understanding of the preparation, processing and administration of CE determinations and associated materials in order to avoid errors that could result in project delays.

Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Compare CEs under NEPA (following FHWA regulations) vs. CEs under CEQA
  • Determine if a project fits into a CE category and whether exceptions apply
  • Recognize, access and use available Caltrans resources to analyze and process CEs
  • Understand the changes to CE practice introduced by SAFETEA-LU, MAP-21 and the FAST Act
  • Understand how Caltrans oversees local agency-sponsored projects
  • Determine the need for technical studies and interagency consultation to support a CE
  • Process a CE, including what forms to use, when to involve the public and who must approve the CE

At the end of the class, students will be given the opportunity to take a short assessment based on the course objectives. Students who successfully pass the assessment will receive a Caltrans certificate of completion for the course.

Course Code