The Black Hole Of Environmental Impact Assessment

PA Pundits - International

By David Wojick, Ph.D. ~

Despite lots of talk about streamlining NEPA, this cannot actually be done. Environmental impact assessment (EIA) of large projects takes a long time for two inescapable reasons. First, nature is a complex system. Second, science takes time.

The result is what I call the Black Hole of environmental impact assessment because once you get in, you cannot get out. There is simply no end to the unanswered questions. Research is often like that with every answer raising more questions.

To begin with, in principle you have to identify every living thing that might be affected by the project, as well as all the important physical features. For the myriad animals and plants this is especially important if any are classified as threatened or endangered under the various protection laws.

You cannot just list all these things, oh no. You have to say where they areā€¦

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