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Myth and Momentum: A Critique of Environmental Impact Assessments

DOI: 10.4236/jep.2013.48A2009    5,897 Downloads   9,341 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are designed to evaluate all reasonably foreseeable environmental consequences of human activities. Appropriate governmental scientists traditionally produced EIAs for management agencies in many countries. However, many EIAs are now contracted out, often to the lowest bidder without due consideration of expertise. Others suffer from limited agency resources. Consequently, many EIAs have become insufficiently researched documents that draw heavily from previous EIAs while being rushed to completion to meet legislative deadlines or avoid delaying projects. Habitual treatment of topics often ignores recent scientific literature, perpetuating previous misconceptions and analytical flaws. Common problems in EIAs discussing wildlife include: a focus on lethal takes, with little consideration of non-lethal impacts or habitat degradation; a general dismissal of the possibility that non-significant (to the resource) impacts can, when combined, become significant; and the assumption that behavioral habituation in animals represents an end of impact. Incentive to break the cycle is somewhat lacking in this now often commercially competitive environment, where contracts are increasingly awarded by industry, generating potential conflict of interest. We believe investment in thorough, impartially written, scientifically-based and up-to-date EIAs is important for appropriately representing and managing ecosystems and their resources and avoiding potentially expensive litigation.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

A. Wright, S. Dolman, M. Jasny, E. Parsons, D. Schiedek and S. Young, "Myth and Momentum: A Critique of Environmental Impact Assessments," Journal of Environmental Protection, Vol. 4 No. 8B, 2013, pp. 72-77. doi: 10.4236/jep.2013.48A2009.

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