What is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?

Written By: Robert Cox

What is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a document that impartially analyzes the full range of potential significant adverse environmental impacts of a proposed action and how those impacts can be avoided or minimized.

What is the purpose of an EIS?

An EIS provides a means for agencies to give early consideration to environmental factors, and assists in the balancing of environmental issues with social and economic considerations in planning and decision making. The EIS systematically considers the full range of potential
environmental impacts, along with other aspects of project planning and design. The EIS must identify and analyze significant adverse environmental impacts; evaluate alternatives to avoid one or more of those impacts; and discuss mitigation measures which could minimize identified impacts. EIS procedures also provide the means for public review and comment about a proposed action.

Who prepares an EIS?

A draft EIS may be prepared either by the project sponsor or applicant, or by the lead agency. It is most common for the applicant or project sponsor to prepare the draft EIS.

What is scoping?

Scoping is a process that develops a written document (“scope”) which outlines the topics and analyses of potential environmental impacts of an action that will be addressed in a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS, or draft EIS). Scoping determines which matters to
include or exclude from the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The scope adopted by the lead agency (New Rochelle City Council) is, in effect, a table of contents for the DEIS.

What is the purpose of scoping?

The scoping process is intended to narrow issues and ensure that the DEIS will be a concise, accurate and complete document that is adequate for public review. The process is optional, but highly recommended for all DEISs. It can be used to:

 Identify potential adverse impacts
 Eliminate non-significant and non-relevant subjects
 Identify potential alternatives to the proposed action
 Identify potential mitigation measures
 Define the nature and extent of the information to be presented
 Provide an opportunity for early public participation

The scoping process can allow the lead agency (New Rochelle City Council) and other involved agencies to reach agreement on relevant issues in order to minimize the inclusion of unnecessary issues. Scoping should also help the project sponsor avoid the submission of an obviously deficient DEIS.

Who prepares the Scope?

Typically, the project sponsor prepares and submits a draft scope to the lead agency. The lead agency must adopt a final scope within 60 days. If the agency fails to adopt a final scope within that time, the draft scope becomes final.

Additional information regarding scoping and draft EIS can be found on the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) website in the SEQR handbook.