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What are the implications of the US EIA plan?

The United States is the founder of the environmental impact assessment system, which covers all the decisions that have a significant impact on the environment, including planning. The relevant regulations are mainly embodied in the two national laws on environmental policies promulgated in 1969 and the regulations on the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act promulgated in 1978. The legal basis for planning environmental impact assessment in China is mainly the People's Republic of China Environmental Impact Assessment Law promulgated in 2002 and the regulations on environmental impact assessment promulgated in 2009.
  As can be seen, the Legislative Features of China and the United States are very similar. They all have a special law first, and then the regulations that explain and supplement the matters not covered by the law. Although the two environmental impact assessment laws promulgated earlier in the United States, many regulations still remain advanced. By comparing the provisions of the two countries in the regulatory level facing the key issues of the EIA plan, it is of great significance for the next phase of the revision of the relevant laws and regulations of the EIA plan and the reform of the EIA management system.
Comparison of the relevant provisions of the EIA plan between China and the United States
The relevant provisions of the EIA plan in China and the United States have some differences in the timing of intervention, the screening mechanism, the evaluation focus, the program selection, and the public participation.
First, the timing of intervention. America's "National Environmental Policy Act (A)" 102nd provisions: "the federal government agencies in the formulation may impact on the human environment planning and decision-making, should use systematic and interdisciplinary means that natural science and social science, and the full integration of environmental art design." This provision is considered as the legal basis for the early intervention of the eia. After the "National Environmental Policy Act implementing regulations" not only in the multiple demands of early intervention, and a clear focus on matters of early intervention: one is involved in the process, environmental impact analysis to be able to participate in the analysis of economy and technology; two is the environmental impact analysis and planning documents to solicit public files at the same time the three is through early intervention; optimization of the recommended scheme, and the formation of alternatives; the four is to take the initiative to seek the views of relevant organizations and individuals in the planning process. The above provisions ensure the unification of the planning process and the evaluation process. In practice, the planning unit usually proposes a recommendation scheme, and then asks the relevant departments, non-governmental organizations and the public for their opinions. According to the public opinion, the establishment department will optimize its recommendation program, form an alternative plan for the preparation of the report, and determine the focus of the evaluation. Compared with the United States, China's "Environmental Impact Assessment Law" and "Planning Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance" only asked the planning departments in the planning process environmental impact assessment organizations, did not make any provision for early intervention, and did not give the environmental impact assessment to research and development of alternative power. Because there is no substantive requirement for early intervention in the legal level, the lack of operational accountability mechanism for illegal activities leads to a general phenomenon that the planning environmental planning lags behind the planning process in practical work. Many planning EIA even after planning approval to fill, basically lost the role of source control. In addition, due to the late intervention of the planning EIA, and the lack of public participation in the early stage, the content of evaluation is difficult to fully comply with social concerns.
 Two, screening mechanism. According to the "National Environmental Policy Act implementing regulations" provisions, the federal government agencies are required to establish a set of internal procedures and standards according to the "National Environmental Policy Act" requirements, to determine whether the proposed planning to carry out environmental impact assessment. If between, you need to carry out a brief environmental assessment. If the assessment considers the impact to be prominent, an environmental impact report should be prepared. If the impact of the assessment is considered to be minor, it will need to issue a document "no major impact identification" and submit it to the authorities concerned and the public for review for 30 days. If the review is passed, the evaluation process will end here. If the public believes that the impact of prominent, still need to prepare a detailed environmental impact report. China directly through the "Environmental Impact Assessment Law" and "Planning Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance" listed the need for evaluation of the planning category. Among them, the "ten special" planning needs to prepare the environmental impact report, "one site, three areas" planning and "ten special" planning guidance program, the need for the preparation of chapters or instructions on environmental impact. For more guidance, in 2004 the Ministry of Environmental Protection released a compilation of "environmental impact report of the specific scope of planning (Trial)" and "the specific scope of the preparation of environmental impact of text or a description of the plan (Trial)". But overall, the proposed planning category is still relatively broad, difficult to correspond with the current planning system and planning name, lead to some very difficult to determine the scope of planning by should prepare an environmental impact report, chapter or explanation or relating to the preparation of environmental impact, which has become one of the important reasons of planning EIA implementation rate.
Three, evaluation focus. America's "National Environmental Policy Act" Regulations for the implementation of the environmental impact report from form to content were put forward specific requirements in 11 aspects, the main content includes the planning outline, affected by the environment, environmental impact and public participation, second, third of which are focus on the evaluation. In the workflow, first of all, identify the natural, social and economic objects that may be affected by planning, and then evaluate the possible impact on them, and propose mitigation measures. The evaluation content basically covers all natural, social, economic and cultural aspects, including environmental justice, climate change and other issues, but in general the atmosphere, water, soil, vegetation, species, public health is the focus of the content. For environmental impact, including direct impact, indirect impact and cumulative impact of 3 aspects. Compared with the United States, China's existing laws and regulations on the EIA report did not propose the results of the expression of the requirements, the existing guidelines are only given relevant recommendations. Because the binding force is not strong, the planning EIA report has many problems, such as more chapters, more content, overlapping, poor readability and so on. In the content, and the United States for the environmental factors evaluation model is different, the "Regulations" provisions of article eighth of the planning environmental impact assessment should be overall impact on the relevant regional, watershed, coastal ecological system of planning evaluation, impact on the environment and human health have long, the relation between the planning and implementation of economic benefits, social and environmental benefits as well as the current interests and long-term interests. However, due to the lack of technical methods and the weak data base, the above requirements have not become the focus of evaluation in practical work. This has become a rather embarrassing problem in the legislation of planning EIA in china.
Four, scheme comparison. Compared with the United States "national environmental policy law" and "national environmental policy law implementation regulations", it is the core content of environmental impact assessment. Participation in the selection scheme generally consists of no action plans, proposals made by the planning agencies, and alternatives formed by public participation in the 3 category. For example, in the United States "Tonto national Forest Park tourism management environmental impact assessment report", around the tourist routes designated, tourists and vehicles can enter the area, and whether to allow camping, cross-country, hunting, collection and other activities, on the basis of relevant institutions and listen to public opinion, including the recommended scheme, a total of 4 plan. After the obvious infeasible scheme is eliminated, the final 3 programs enter the selection phase. In the environmental impact report, the 3 programs and the non action program were evaluated in depth, and the environmental impact analysis was carried out. China's "Environmental Impact Assessment Law" and "Planning Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance", there is no provisions on the selection of multiple programs. "Planning technical guidelines for environmental impact assessment," although master of resource, environment, ecological effects of different implementation plan in the planning stage of analysis, prediction and assessment, but because of the legal effect is not high, and the lack of specific requirements, the planning process is difficult to have a substantial impact. In fact, the planning process of our country generally lacks the multi project demonstration link. Such as land use planning, urban overall planning, etc., have not carried out the law and technical requirements of multi project comparison. The above reasons have determined that most of the planning EIA in our country do not carry out multi plan selection, but only to evaluate the proposal of the planning department.

  Five, public participation. The United States regulations on the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act provide detailed information on environmental impact assessment, information disclosure and public participation in various cases. For information disclosure, according to the scope of the impact of a clear way to open. With the influence of planning, evaluation after the draft is completed, must be issued in the Federal Register notice of "public participation" the government information platform and website, and published the full text of the report on the United States Environmental Protection Agency website. For public participation, hearings, seminars, seminars and written comments are advocated. For the collection of public opinion, the planning department, whether adopted or not, should give instructions one by one, and attached to the report in the form of an attachment. Therefore, the planning EIA public participation in the work is generally larger, such as "clear Crick management area resource management plan" environmental impact assessment held a total of 3 times of public participation in workshops and seminars, a total of more than 1000 public opinion presented orally or in writing. In the end, as many as 5614 submissions were submitted in various ways, with more than 500 pages devoted to the handling of public opinion. Compared with the United States, China has not yet put forward the specific requirements of public participation in the legal level. The Interim Measures of the Ministry of environmental protection for the public participation in environmental impact assessment are mainly for environmental impact assessment of construction projects. There is no specific public participation management approach to the eia. In practice, the United States and the difference is mainly reflected in the following aspects: one is to inform the American public participation in the EIA will be published in the Federal Register "and" website, and China has no fixed platform for the dissemination of information; two is the United States in the preparation of the report after the completion of the public participation in the stage to open the full report and our only open edition; three is the United States mainly through conferences and written materials in the form of soliciting public opinions, and our country is mainly through public participation questionnaire to solicit opinions; four is the planning EIA report will generally use large amplitude in response to public opinion articles, but our country with very little space; five is the United States in the report of the final version is given for adoption of planning of public opinion, while China is only given the planning EIA report on public opinion adopted, public opinion will eventually Whether it is included in the plan has greater uncertainty.
Suggestions on promoting the planning EIA system in China
Referring to the experience of the United States and the reality of our country, the author believes that we can promote the planning EIA system in the following aspects to meet the requirements of scientific and democratic decision-making.
Through the refinement of regulatory requirements, the planning process and the planning EIA process are integrated. The reason why the United States can very well be the planning process and the planning EIA process integration, at least the following reasons: one is the "high status" of the National Environmental Policy Act, not only the environment matters a lot in the decision to consider, and all other laws, regulations and decisions shall conform to the requirements; two is the "National Environmental Policy Act" Regulations for the implementation of environmental assessment and early intervention should be achieved made clear; three is the planning of the EIA report by the general planning department personally led the preparation, not entrust other units to carry out.
Therefore, our country should promote the planning EIA early intervention should focus on the following aspects: one is the work of the revision of the "Environmental Impact Assessment Law" and "Planning Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance", put forward specific requirements of planning EIA early intervention, set up at the same time for planning EIA is seriously lagging behind the planning process behavior punishment clear mechanism; the two is to encourage the planning department to lead the plan environmental impact assessment carried out, so that the process of planning and evaluation process are unified; the three is full consultation with the environmental protection departments, environmental organizations and environmental experts in the planning process, try to incorporate environmental considerations in the early stage.
   Through the combination of directories and procedures, the establishment of planning screening mechanism. As to whether planning needs to carry out environmental impact assessment and what form to take, international inspection is usually carried out through catalogues or through procedures. China's planning is divided into national, provincial, municipal and county levels at the level. The categories are divided into overall planning, regional planning and special planning. Some planning has a legal basis, some planning is to develop a temporary, different levels, planning either name, content or compile are very different, not through the simple standard to determine whether the need to carry out environmental impact assessment, and shall prepare environmental impact report or preparation of chapter or explanation of the environmental impacts. Based on this, we should take the "directory + program" approach to screening. Specifically, for the planning of laws and regulations, the environmental impact degree can be judged according to its content and characteristics, and whether the environmental impact assessment should be carried out is determined. The need for environmental impact assessment of planning, further list list, that is the need for the preparation of environmental impact report or preparation of chapter or explanation of the environmental impacts, achieve the effect. There is no legal basis for the establishment of planning and random, should establish a set of standardized procedures, through consultation with relevant departments and stakeholders, or by experts and other ways to determine whether to carry out environmental impact assessment, and the need to prepare an environmental impact report or preparation of chapter or explanation of the environmental impacts. Through programming to promote the content of evaluation and planning depth matching. The United States mainly focuses on land use, natural resources development and ecological environment protection in the United states. Because the spatial direction is clear and the planning content is specific, all of them adopt the evaluation model aiming at the environmental factors or sensitive targets. Compared with the United States, China's planning is not only multi-level, complex system, and the depth of preparation is also very different. Whether it is in accordance with the "macro evaluation requirements" in the "Plan Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance", or in accordance with the elements of the United States evaluation model, can not fully adapt to each planning characteristics. In this regard, China can learn the United States and most other countries, through the "Scoping" link, namely by solicit the opinions of the relevant departments, organizations and stakeholders to determine the key content and the evaluation of the depth. Overall, for the comprehensive and macro planning, evaluation will focus on the key problem size, layout, structure and timing, in the project stage further evaluation of the impact of environmental factors and sensitive targets; for content specific planning, such as coal mine planning, port planning, traffic planning and so on. It will focus on the environmental impact factors and sensitive target evaluation, form and content of environmental impact assessment of construction projects in the next stage can be simplified greatly. Through standardizing the decision-making process, we can create conditions for planning EIA to participate in multiple program selection. Multiple selection is the essence of planning EIA, the United States and other western countries have put options as the main line and the main planning EIA, the fundamental reason is that many schemes have been incorporated into the regulatory requirements, must be part of the decision-making process. In contrast, many laws and regulations and technical specifications concerning planning have not put forward the requirements of multi plan selection, so that the EIA has no support. Therefore, we should standardize the planning process to create conditions for planning environmental impact assessment and participating in multiple program selection. In the long run, it is necessary to incorporate multiple program selection procedures in the planning legislation or planning specifications for key areas and key industries, so that planning EIA participation in multiple alternatives is an integral part of the decision-making process. In the medium term, consideration may be given to the power to formulate and develop alternatives through the Environmental Impact Assessment Act and the revision of the planning environmental impact assessment ordinance. In the near future, the planning environmental impact assessment should be carried out at least by the recommendation scheme of the planning department, and through the 3 schemes proposed by the EIA and the no action plan, the environmental impact analysis will be carried out. Improving the quality of public participation by improving information disclosure and participation. Although the public participation in our country's public decision-making status has improved, but compared with the United States, China's public participation in the EIA is still seriously inadequate. In the future, we should focus on the following tasks: first, to improve the mode of information publication. While promoting public participation through multiple channels, at least one approach should be fixed and well known to the public to improve the quality of public information disclosure. For example, the environmental protection department review of the planning EIA report in the website of the Ministry of environmental protection issued a notice of public participation, the provincial environmental protection departments to review the planning EIA report in the provincial environmental protection department (bureau) posted on the website of public announcement. Two is to increase the intensity of information disclosure. In the second stage of public participation in the planning EIA, the full text of the report should be published for public consultation, and the interested department and the direct stakeholders should be invited to participate in the consultation. Three is to improve public participation. In the past, the quality of public participation based on questionnaires was not high, and the opinions should be solicited through hearings, demonstration meetings, seminars and interviews. Four is to increase the response to public opinion. Following the practice of the United States, the adoption of public opinion is classified and attached to the report in the form of an attachment, and made public with the report in the open to the public.