Monitoring: The Missing Piece (A Scorecard of NEPA Monitoring)

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The U.S. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 heralded in an era of more robust attention to environmental impacts resulting from larger scale federal projects. The appeal of this type of environmental legislation is evidenced by the number of other countries which have adopted NEPA’s framework. Mandates to review environmental impacts, identify alternatives, and provide mitigation plans before commencement of the project are at the heart of NEPA. Such project reviews have resulted in the development of a vast number of reports and large volumes of project-specific data that potentially can be used to better understand the components and processes of the natural environment and provide guidance for improved and efficient environmental protection. However, the Environmental Assessment (EA) or the more robust and intensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that are required for most major projects more frequently than not are developed to satisfy the procedural aspects of the NEPA legislation while they fail to provide the needed guidance for improved decision-making. While NEPA legislation recommends monitoring of project activities, this activity is not mandated, and in those situations where it has been incorporated the monitoring showed that the EIS was inaccurate in direction and/or magnitude of the impact. Many reviews of NEPA have suggested that monitoring all project phases, from the design through the decommissioning, should be incorporated. Information gathered though a well-developed monitoring program can be managed in databases and benefit not only the specific project but would provide guidance how to better design and implement future activities designed to protect and enhance the natural environment.






Bjorkland, Ronald (2012). Monitoring: The Missing Piece (A Scorecard of NEPA Monitoring). Retrieved from

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