ELAW is pleased to announce that we have created a new electronic resource for advocates working to enforce, protect, and defend environmental impact assessment (EIA) laws!

Environmental impact assessment is an important tool for evaluating and disclosing the anticipated environmental effects of proposed projects, such as hydroelectric dams, mining, or oil and gas drilling.  EIA laws promote transparency and public participation, by providing opportunities for members of the public to learn about projects that may affect their communities and to express their support or concerns to decisionmakers.  A vast majority of countries have laws requiring EIA.  These laws are, at times, poorly implemented.  Elsewhere, EIA laws have come under legislative attack in countries where powerful private interests are exerting pressure on government officials to fast-track unsustainable and destructive development projects without public input.  In the last six months alone ELAW’s legal team has helped partners in Cambodia, Mongolia, Jamaica, Panama, and Pakistan with efforts to strengthen and improve the EIA process in those countries.  ELAW’s science team has reviewed and critiqued scores of EIA documents, deciphering complex proposals and uncovering critical flaws.

ELAW’s new resource, called “ELM” (EIA Law Matrix), provides access to EIA laws and regulations from countries around the world.  Over ELAW’s 20-year history, we have fielded many questions about EIA and have assisted partners seeking to defend EIA laws.  Our goal in creating ELM was to develop a tool that will help our partners answer questions, see global and regional EIA trends, and identify laws that contain model language.

Building ELM has been a collective effort on the part of ELAW’s partners who have contributed information from their home countries, law student interns, and our information technology team.  The database is steadily growing and we are on track to include laws from 50 countries by the end of 2012.  We thank everyone who has helped us launch this groundbreaking resource!

Liz Mitchell
ELAW Staff Attorney