Digitizing EIS for the 21st Century

June 3, 2020 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm
Webinar Only

An ELI Member Webinar

Although the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) offers essential information to assist decision-makers and stakeholders, the process can be expensive and time-consuming. This is especially true if a project requires an environmental impact statement (EIS). The average EIS takes 4.5 years to complete, consists of over 1,600 pages, and costs $2.5 million per project. Since at least 1978, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has prioritized streamlining the review process.

Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41) and Executive Order 13807 intended to streamline federal agencies’ management of the review process for infrastructure projects. As NEPA undergoes more change than at any other point in its history, and as the novel COVID-19 has changed business operations and affected public participation across the country, a new approach has come to the forefront: digitizing EISs. Digitizing the EIS process has the goals of reducing costs, time, and reports’ length and improving public involvement by integrating advanced analytics and visual tools supported by a digital platform.

What projects are best suited for a digital EIS process in the near-term? What opportunities and risks does streamlining the EIS process through digital technology present? What are the best practices to digitize the EIS process? How can a digital EIS be a strong tool during a global pandemic and in future crises? Our panelists explorde these questions and more by diving into the possible digital future of NEPA and its impact on streamlining the review process.

James M. McElfish, Jr.
, Director, Sustainable Use of Land Program and Senior Attorney, Environmental Law Institute, Moderator
Brian Boose, Vice President, AECOM
Kathryn Mengerink, Executive Director, Waitt Institute
Ross Stewart, Digital Impact Assessment Lead, EMEA, AECOM

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