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  • 1. CIA – An Interrogation
    Based on the September CaRDI Research and Policy Brief
    with Charles Geisler and Richard Stedman
    What is Cumulative Impact Assessment and Why Does it Matter?
    David Kay
  • 2. What are Cumulative Impacts?
    Individual effects of many actions combine over time and/or space.
    Combined impact typically greater than the individual projects added together.
    Thresholds – for individual projects vs. collectively
  • 3. Cumulative Impacts
    • CEQ Regulations §1508.7:
    • 4. “Cumulative impact” is the impact on the environment which results from the incremental impact of the action being analyzed when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non-Federal) or person undertakes such actions
  • Cumulative Impact Mechanisms
    Causal linkage: a given action influences the likelihood that other actions will follow
    Eg. extending a sewer line increases the likelihood that farmers will sell their land for development, and each sale increases the chance of additional sales)
    The same resource affected by (small and) independent projects
    Eg. fish habitat silts up due to runoff from many small, unrelated upstream logging operations
  • 5. Traffic example
    • Highway reconstruction: over 10 years, a dozen new stores and restaurants are constructed along a previously sleepy commercial strip.
    • 6. While the traffic increase induced by each store individually is not significant, the combined traffic creates congestion on residential streets, negatively affecting driver and pedestrian safety.
  • Cumulative Impact Assessment
    Why do CIA?
    • Many of the most significant environmental, social, and economic impacts are missed with project by project analysis
    • 7. Both informed decision making and adequate protection of people, communities, and the environment are undermined when cumulative impacts are ignored.
    Image from CIA in Fort Liard Area (Canada)
  • 8. Cumulative Impact Cases in the 9th Circuit Court, 1995-2004 (from Michael Smith)
    • 60% (15 of 25) of all cases ruled the analysis was inadequate
    • 9. In the past 3 years, plaintiffs have won 72% (8 of 11) of the cases
    • 10. Most common challenge: inadequate analysis of other actions (60% of cases)
    • 11. Most common reason to lose a challenge (87% - 13 of 15 cases)
    • 12. Second most common reason: lack of data/rationale (44% of the cases – agencies lost 54% of these cases)
  • Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands v. BLM (2004; from Michael Smith)
    • Indian Soda and Conde Shell timber sales in southern Oregon
    • 13. Separate EAs for both projects
    • 14. Cumulative Effects analysis ruled inadequate
    • 15. EAs “…do not sufficiently identify or discuss the incremental impact that can be expected from each successive timber sale, or how those individual impacts might combine or synergistically interact with each other.”
  • Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands v. BLM (2004from Michael Smith)
    “Although each of the EAs contains a section of more than a dozen pages under the heading ‘Cumulative Effects,’ a close read reveals that those sections do not adequately discuss the subject. A considerable portion of each section discusses only the direct effects of the project at issue on its own minor watershed.”
  • 16. What’s Involved (from Michael Smith)
    • EIS cumulative-effects analysis must identify:
    • 17. the area in which effects will be felt
    • 18. the impacts that are expected in that area
    • 19. other actions - past, proposed, and reasonably foreseeable - that have had or are expected to have impacts in the same area
    • 20. the impacts or expected impacts from these other actions
    • 21. the overall impact that can be expected if the individual impacts are allowed to accumulate
    Fritiofson v. Alexander, 772 F.2d 1225 (5th Cir. 1985)
  • 22. CIA Techniques (CEQ 1997)
    Questionnaires, interviews, and panels to gather information about the wide range of actions and effects needed for a cumulative effects analysis.
    Checklists to identify potential cumulative effects by reviewing important human activities and potentially affected
    Matrices to determine the cumulative effects on resources, ecosystems, and human communities by combining individual effects from different actions.
    Networks and system diagrams to trace the multiple, subsidiary effects of various actions that accumulate upon resources, ecosystems, and human communities.
    Modelingto quantify the cause-and effect relationships leading to cumulative effects.
    Trends analysis to asess the status of resources, ecosystems, and human communities over time and identify cumulative effects problems, establish appropriate environmental baselines, or proiect future cumulative effects.
    Overlay mapping and GIS to incorporate locational information into cumulative effects analysis and help set the boundaries of the analysis, analyze landscape parameters, and identify areas where effects will be the greatest.
  • 23. Smith: Is CIA impossible (or at the least – really, really hard to do)?
    Lack of time and resources to effectively analyze large spatial and temporal scales
    Lack of sufficient data or methods
    Lack of baseline information
    Vague plans for the future
  • 24. General Approaches
    Tailored to environmental law
    Environmental impact statements triggered by project proposal(s)
    Purpose to produce information about environmental impacts that decision makers consider
    Policy focused planning approaches
    Proactive, less technical, bigger picture, balance of policy considerations on community/regional scale
    Link between two in NYS
    Traditions of comprehensive planning and generic environmental impact statements