A procedure for evaluating environmental impact

Circular 645

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In a recent article in "Science" discussing the Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Gillette (1971) states "The law's instructions for preparing an impact report apparently are not specific enough to insure that an agency will fully, or even usefully, examine the environmental effects of the projects it plans." This report contains a procedure that may assist in developing uniform environmental impact statements. The Department of the Interior and the Council on Environmental Quality will appreciate comments on the procedure here proposed.

The heart of the system is a matrix which is general enough to be used as a reference checklist or a reminder of the full range of actions and impacts on the environment that may relate to proposed actions. The marked matrix also serves as an abstract of the text of the environmental assessment to enable the many reviewers of impact reports to determine quickly what are considered to be the significant impacts and their relative importance as evaluated by the originator of the impact report.

Many exhaustive studies of the use of matrices for environmental studies are now being undertaken. (See Sorensen, 1971.) This comparatively simple system is intended as a guide for the many people who are faced with the evaluation and preparation of environmental impact reports before the results of these studies have been completed. It should be borne in mind that there is presently no uniformity in approach or agreement upon objectives in an impact analysis and this generalized matrix is a step in that direction.

The procedure does not limit the development of detail in any specific aspect of the environment; a separate expanded matrix for any environmental aspect can easily be developed within the framework provided.

Additional publication details

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Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
A procedure for evaluating environmental impact
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Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s):
Pennsylvania Water Science Center, Indiana Water Science Center
Report: i, 13 p.; 1 Plate: 33.34 x 24.16 inches
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