Impact assessments come in many forms depending on the project location and the relevant varied and cumbersome regulatory requirements. CSA’s strong ability to coordinate and communicate with regulatory agencies can streamline the otherwise unwieldy requirements.
For domestic needs at the federal level, the most frequently encountered assessments in the marine environment are in response to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA 42 USC 4321 et seq.), which provides the framework for environmental decision-making in the U.S. NEPA requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision-making processes by considering the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and evaluating reasonable alternatives. There are two main types of NEPA documents that CSA often prepares (or assists with preparing) for U.S. federal agencies: Environmental Assessments (EAs) and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS's).
CSA has conducted numerous impact assessment projects for energy clients in the United States and internationally, addressing all phases of industry activities. The impact assessments are used to identify environmental consequences early in the project planning and design process to facilitate preventing, minimizing, and mitigating adverse impacts. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process provides a formal mechanism for governmental agencies, stakeholders, and local non-government organizations to improve decision-making processes involving environmental issues by ensuring that project plans are environmentally sound and sustainable.
CSA supports both federal agencies and industry clients with the preparation of NEPA-related documents (EAs and EISs). This support includes all NEPA-related activities starting at the scoping phase, preparing the draft and final NEPA documents, assistance with public meetings, and preparation of the decision file. CSA provides NEPA support to federal agencies such as BOEM and the Navy for a wide range of proposed actions.
- Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). CSA has supported BOEM with the preparation of numerous EAs, EISs, and Programmatic EISs such as for conducting individual lease sales, geological and geophysical surveys in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, and updating oil & gas leasing programmatic activities.
- Department of Defense (DoD)-Navy. CSA has supported the Navy with EIS preparation for activities such as ship shock testing.
CSA also prepares NEPA-related documents for industry clients to support their permit applications to U.S. government agencies.
- Gulf of Mexico Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). CSA routinely prepares EIAs for oil and gas industry clients in the Gulf of Mexico for submittal to BOEM along with the client’s Exploration Plan (EP) or Development Operations Coordination Document (DOCD). When BOEM receives the applicant’s EP or DOCD, it reviews the plan (including the EIA) and prepares an EA or a Categorical Exclusion Review.
- Gulf of Mexico Seismic EIAs. CSA prepares EIAs for oil and gas industry clients in the Gulf of Mexico for submittal to BOEM along with permit applications for seismic surveys. When BOEM receives the permit application, it reviews the application (including the EIA) and prepares an EA utilizing the information provided in the EIA.
- Environmental Reports, Environmental Evaluations, etc. CSA has prepared many impact assessments for seismic, submarine telecommunication, oil and gas, and other offshore industry clients in support of their applications to federal and/or state agencies. These are not NEPA documents, but will eventually be considered by a federal agency during their own NEPA process in evaluating whether to issue a federal permit. Preparation of an evaluation to support a permit application is a valuable component to accompany a permit application because it is providing a portion of the completed work for the agency reviewing the application.
International Impact Assessments
CSA has developed several hundred EIAs and related permitting documents including Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) and Environmental, Social, and Health Impact Assessments (ESHIAs). In the absence of national standards, CSA typically uses World Bank Group guidelines and standards. The IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, developed General Environmental, Health, and Safety Guidelines and Industry Sector EHS Guidelines. The IFC applies a set of eight Performance Standards to manage social and environmental risks and impacts as well as to enhance development opportunities in its private sector financing. CSA is fully cognizant of the need for IFC compliance in its preparation of EIA deliverables. The Equator Principles form the foundation for approval of IFC-sponsored development efforts, and CSA is familiar with integrating IFC standards into permitting documentation.