Scientific shortcomings in environmental impact statements internationally
- Subject Areas
- Coupled Natural and Human Systems, Natural Resource Management, Environmental Impacts
- environmental impact assessment, review, environmental impact statement, mitigation, impact significance
- © 2018 Singh et al.
- This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ Preprints) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.
- Cite this article
- 2018. Scientific shortcomings in environmental impact statements internationally. PeerJ Preprints 6:e27409v1 https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.27409v1
Governments around the world rely on environmental impact assessment (EIA) to provide rigorous analyses and an accurate appraisal of the risks and benefits of development. But how rigorous are the analyses conducted in EIAs, and how do they compare across nations? We evaluate the output from EIAs for jurisdictions in seven countries, focusing on scope (temporal and spatial), mitigation actions, and impact significance determination, which is integral for decision-making. We find that in all jurisdictions, the number of identified significant adverse impacts was consistently small (or nonexistent), regardless of context. Likely contributing to this uniformity, we find that the scopes of analyses are consistently narrower than warranted ecologically and toxicologically, many proposed mitigation measures are assumed to be effective with little to no justification,and that the professional judgement of developer-paid consultants is overwhelmingly the determinant of impact significance, with no transparent account of the reasoning processes involved. EIA can be salvaged as a rigorous, credible decision-aiding tool if rigor is enforced in assessment methodologies, regulators are empowered to enforce rigor, and pro-development conflict of interest is avoided.
This is a preprint submission to PeerJ Preprints.