EIA information and public pressure

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced the release of a new mapping feature in EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) database. As part of EPA’s ongoing effort to improve transparency, the EPA and State Enforcement Actions Map will allow the public to access federal and state enforcement information in an interactive format and to compare enforcement action information by state. The map will be refreshed monthly to include up to date information about the enforcement actions taken to address violations of air, water, and waste laws. This map will be a better visual aid for those people wishing to see what is happening in a given physical area."



In AECEN's just completed workshop on EIA and Climate Change Adaptation, held in conjunction with the Asia-Pacific Adaptation Network (APAN) in Bangkok (25-26 October 2011), several participants pointed out that changes to environmental legislation or government practices often stemmed from court cases challenging EIA decisions. How many countries in Asia, however, make their environmental enforcement decisions easily accessible, let alone searchable by area? To address this need, AECEN is embarking on a new clearinghouse function, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), where "everything you wanted to know about EIA" (well almost) will be put online, including the basic laws, regulations and guidelines, best practice examples, and wherever possible details of enforcement actions relating to EIAs.  It is hoped that this new facility will also have an "ask the expert" function and possibly a password protected section where members could approach each other for confidential advice.  We probably won't get to the stage of spatially displaying the information, although that is a feature which could be looked at later.  Nevertheless, we will be relying heavily on our members to provide the relevant information, so we hope that you will assist the Secretariat and share your experiences and knowledge regarding EIA with other AECEN members. Remember AECEN is here to provide a service to members, but a degree of self-help is needed too.

Best wishes from a flooded Bangkok

Peter King