Trends in Process Application

During the decade of the 1970s, various federal agencies produced approximately 1,200 final EISs on an annual basis. During the 1980s and early 1990s, the number decreased and currently is in the range of 400 to 500 EISs annually. While it appears that EIA emphasis in the United States has decreased based upon the reduced number of EISs, the number of EAs prepared has significantly increased. Unfortunately, no statistics are available on the number of EAs; however, one EPA official recently estimated that 30,000 to 50,000 EAs are prepared annually (Smith 1989). Approximately 45,000 EAs were prepared in 1992 (Council on Environmental Quality 1993). Concepts such as scoping and mitigation are now included in initial project planning and decision making, thus reducing the need for subsequent preparation of EISs.

The concepts of the EIA process have become fundamental to numerous federal and state-level environmental programs, permits, and reports. The documentation is analogous to a "targeted" EA or EIS. Examples of relevant permits and reports include:

1. Air quality permits and related reporting required by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990

2. Point source wastewater discharge permits and related reporting required by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments (also known as Clean Water Act) and its subsequent amendments

3. Industrial area storm water discharge permits and related reporting required by the NPDES program of the Clean Water Act of 1987

4. Permits for dredging and filling activities in navigable waters as required by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act of 1972

5. Remedial investigations, feasibility studies, and records of decision on uncontrolled hazardous waste sites identified under the auspices of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) of 1981 and the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986 (Sharples and Smith 1989)

6. Replacements, permits, and reports on underground storage tanks regulated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Amendments of 1984

7. Operating permits and closure plans for sanitary landfills or hazardous waste landfills required by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Amendments (also called the Hazardous and Solid Waste Act) of 1984 (Sharples and Smith 1989)

8. Reports prepared on site (property transfer) assessments to establish owner, buyer, and lender liability for contamination

9. Reports prepared on regulatory audits

10. Environmental reporting requirements related to new chemical and new product licensing

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