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Johann Köppel

Abstract: Environmental impact assessments to identify and mitigate environmental goal conflicts Pursuing PORTMAN AND FISHHENDLER´S (2011) definition of “an integrated framework for regulating and managing different environmental resources, as well as the bringing together of fragmented centers of institutional power”, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) are meant to do so from their very beginning with the US National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA 1970). The mission is “… an anticipatory, participatory, integrative environmental management tool which has the ultimate objective of providing decision-makers with an indication of the likely consequences of their decision relating to new projects or to new programs, plans or policies" as WOOD (2002) has put it in a nutshell. Through SEA, concepts like sustainable development can be incorporated as an integral part of the development of all policies and then ´trickled down´ through plans programs, and finally to the project level (JONES et al. 2005).

Consequently, EIA is a principal medium through which governmental systems have incorporated the environmental sciences into political decision-making (PORTMAN AND FISHHENDLER 2011). It requires to consider future consequences of current decisions and solutions to environmental problems through the disclosure and evaluation of alternatives and mitigation measures. It fosters intergovernmental coordination and cooperation through the requirement for agencies to deal with other agencies, state and local governments. Through the requirement for public participation concerned citizens and organizations are integrated into planning and decision making. EIA and SEA must identify the direct and indirect effects of a project on the factors: man, biodiversity, soil, water, air, climate, the landscape, material assets and cultural heritage, and the interaction between these various elements. The assessment of significant environmental impacts must consider different objectives of a multitude of environmental policies established; under NEPA, for example, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Historic Preservation Act, Environmental Justice and many more (BASS et al. 2001) as well as the more recent kid on the block Climate Change policies.

Given the fact of this legal background of Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment, Johann Köppel explores the actual integration performance of EIA and SEA for the deployment of renewable energies and its siting and the subsequent transmission grid extension in Germany and the United States. Finally, current strengths and weaknesses to cope with the overall mission of EIA and SEA to address a more integrated environmental governance will be highlighted. As a matter of fact, empirical research on the integration effectiveness of these tools is still pending a lot and the workshop at Hebrew University might trigger a more thorough exploration of the environmental integration performance of Environmental Impact Assessments.