Scoping in environmental impact assessment :determining issues for baseline analysis

Hoffeld, Scott Lytle
Michael Simpson, MS
Department of Environmental Studies
Scoping is the process of focusing analysis within the context of environmental impact assessment (EIA) on only the issues of significance. Effective scoping will result in a more efficient EIA process, enabling expedient and pertinent data collection for the formulation of the baseline study (existing conditions section) of the environmental document (Environmental Assessment of Environmental Impact Statement). This paper is an overview and analysis of scoping methods and considerations as found in a literature review and in information received from “Little NEPAs,” states that have state laws similar to the United States National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). This paper is divided into separate discussions of related topics on scoping. First, the baseline study is discussed in terms of a phased development as described by beansland (1983). This is followed by discussions of impact boundary delineation, public participation, the importance of values and subjective judgments in EIA, scoping methods, and significance determination. A summary of information gleaned from scoping guidance information from the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and all the “Little NEPAs” follows these sections. Finally, regional considerations for scoping (with respect to geographic location) and the oversight of significant issues are discussed. This paper concludes that public participation is the most important consideration in scoping, and checklists are the most popular methods for refining the scope of EAs and EISs to the issues of significance.

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