Socio-economic impact assessment auditing: a critique using the case study of the Hibernia offshore oil development project

Locke, James C. (1995) Socio-economic impact assessment auditing: a critique using the case study of the Hibernia offshore oil development project. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Environmental impact assessment (EIA) as a formal requirement began in the United States with the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in 1969. Formal EIA procedures have since been adopted world-wide. However, until recently, little research had been undertaken with respect to "follow-up", i.e. evaluating the effectiveness of EIA in predicting the impacts or optimizing outcomes associated with human actions. In fact, it was not until the mid-1980s that questions regarding the utility and efficiency of EIA were given serious consideration. This has highlighted the need for formal EIA follow-up. The EIA audit process allows such follow-up through obtaining relevant information and examining and evaluating EIA procedures and the actual environmental consequences of a project or action. -- The use of and experience with environmental audits is still limited, though the situation is changing as interest in the subject has increased over the past decade, with audit investigations conducted in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia and elsewhere. However, the scope of these audits generally has been limited to bio-physical issues, with socio-economic issues either significantly under-represented or completely omitted. -- The limited research in this area provides the underlying rationale for this thesis, which investigates socio-economic impact assessment (SEIA) auditing using Newfoundland's Hibernia oil development project as a specific case study. Based upon earlier audits, an SEIA auditing method is established and applied to this project. As in other audits, poor wording and inadequate monitoring data preclude an evaluation of the majority of Hibernia impact predictions. Of 193 impact predictions identified only eight could be audited. Of these, three are consistent, and the remaining five inconsistent, with the original predictions for the project. -- These findings further confirm that, in general, neither the current format of Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) nor the quality of the monitoring data being collected is well-suited to the auditing approach typically used. This raises the question of whether the current approach to EIA is itself adequate or useful. In this thesis it is instead argued that an EIA approach emphasizing impact management rather than impact prediction, is better suited to the dynamic nature of both the development projects and the context in which they operate. Such an approach would also better integrate EIA into the broader environmental planning process.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 10916
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [178]-185.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Geography
Date: 1995
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Environmental impact analysis--Newfoundland and Labrador; Offshore oil industry--Environmental aspects--Newfoundland and Labrador.

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