Assessing the Impacts of Climate Change on the Built Environment under NEPA and State EIA Laws: A Survey of Current Practices and Recommendations for Model Protocols
The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law has developed a set of model protocols for assessing the impacts of climate change on the built environment under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and similar laws. This paper summarizes the legal and empirical research that underpinned the development of these protocols. Specifically: Section 1 describes the observed and anticipated impacts of climate change on the built environment and presents the rationale for incorporating climate risk assessments into project-level EIA. Section 2 outlines the legal requirements of NEPA and explains why the consideration of climate impacts falls squarely within the realm of the environmental analysis conducted by federal agencies under NEPA. Section 2 also briefly identifies other state, local, and foreign EIA laws which require consideration of climate change impacts on proposed projects. Section 3 reviews the existing guidelines for integrating climate impact and vulnerability assessments into EIA documents, including guidelines developed by governmental as well as non-governmental actors. Section 4 describes the results of a survey of how federal EISs currently address the impacts of climate change on projects subject to NEPA review. Section 5 summarizes the outcomes of a stakeholder workshop convened by the Sabin Center on June 18, 2015 to discuss this project with government employees, EIA consultants, and other interested parties. Section 6 contains the model protocols for assessing the impact of climate change on the built environment under NEPA and similar statutes. These protocols have been revised to reflect input from the June 18 stakeholder workshop.
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