Cumulative effects assessment and sustainable development under the National Environmental Policy Act

Access full-text files




Senner, Robert Glenn

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This dissertation presents a clear and systematic method for conducting cumulative effects assessments in the United States in a manner consistent with the 1997 guidelines of the President's Council on Environmental Quality and the 1999 guidance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Federal Activities. This method has been developed in a collaborative process with federal and State of Alaska regulatory agency scrutiny during the renewal of the federal and state right-of-way leases for the Trans Alaska Pipeline System in 2004 and in the June 2004 Alaska Groundfish Fisheries Final Programmatic Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement prepared for the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Region. The dissertation describes the process through which the cumulative effects assessment method presented here was developed and presents this approach as a predictive tool with the potential to improve the implementation of sustainable development in the United States. In this context, the dissertation presents an overview of sustainability theory, distinguishing and reviewing representative examples from two major sectors of the sustainable development literature, called here the intergenerational equity strand and the human development strand. It identifies weaknesses in three key areas of the intergenerational equity strand -- lack of theorectical cohesion, insufficient tools for implementation, and an imbalance between normative goals and practical feasibility -- and argues that the human development strand, with its empirical emphasis on metrics and institutional frameworks, offers a model that can serve as a basis for unifying the two strands by providing a theoretical core, implementation tools, and practicable goals. Finally, the dissertation argues that sustainable development is implemented most effectively when it is enabled by institutions that facilitate public involvement, particularly participation by the broadest feasible representation of the affected stakeholders, and that such institutional mobilization can provide a stable and enduring basis to foster the intergenerational equity that is the central, distinguishing feature of sustainability.



LCSH Subject Headings