The International Association for Impact Assessment has defined environmental assessment (or environmental impact assessment) as “. . . the process of identifying the future consequences of a current or proposed action.” Such assessment brings into consideration the possible impact (positive or negative) that proposed actions may have on the environment and include natural, /socio and economic considerations.
At the first level, an undertaking may be categorically excluded from a detailed environmental analysis if it meets certain stipulated criteria previously determined as having no significant environmental impact.
At the second level of analysis, a proposer prepares a written environmental assessment to determine whether or not an undertaking would significantly affect the environment. If the answer is no, the makes a finding of no significant impact. This finding may address measures that a proposer will take to reduce (or mitigate) potentially significant impacts. If the environmental assessment finds that the environmental consequences of a proposed undertaking may be significant, an environmental impact statement is prepared by the proposer.
An environmental impact statement is a more detailed evaluation of the proposed action and its alternatives. Stakeholders in the proposed undertaking may provide input to the preparation of an environmental impact statement and may comment on the draft environmental impact statement when it is completed.
In some instances, if a proposer anticipates that an undertaking may significantly impact the environment, or if a project is environmentally controversial, the proposer may choose to prepare an environmental impact statement without having to first prepare an environmental assessment.
- National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), United States in the Encyclopedia of Earth.
- Environmental Impact Assessment in the Encyclopedia of Earth.
- Environmental and social assessment in the Encyclopedia of Earth.
- Environmental monitoring and assessment in the Encyclopedia of Earth.
- Bass, R., A. Herson, K. Bogdan, 2001. The NEPA Book. Solano Press, Port Arena, CA.
- Council on Environmental Quality, 1997. The National Environmental Policy Act: A Study of Its Effectiveness After 25 Years.
- Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) “NEPA Net” (This gateway website provides access to the NEPA Law, CEQ NEPA Regulations and Guidance documents, links to federal agency NEPA sites, and updates on current federal NEPA related activities.)
- Environmental Law Institute, 1995. Rediscovering the National Environmental Policy Act: Back to the Future.