Effective use of environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for geothermal development projects

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Both the developed and developing nations of the world would like to move toward a position of sustainable development while paying attention to the restoration of natural resources, improving the environment, and improving the quality of life. The impacts of geothermal development projects are generally positive. It is important, however, that the environmental issues associated with development be addressed in a systematic fashion. Drafted early in the project planning stage, a well-prepared Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) can significantly add to the quality of the overall project. An EIA customarily ends with the decision to proceed with the project. The environmental ... continued below

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Goff, S.J. May 28, 2000.

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Both the developed and developing nations of the world would like to move toward a position of sustainable development while paying attention to the restoration of natural resources, improving the environment, and improving the quality of life. The impacts of geothermal development projects are generally positive. It is important, however, that the environmental issues associated with development be addressed in a systematic fashion. Drafted early in the project planning stage, a well-prepared Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) can significantly add to the quality of the overall project. An EIA customarily ends with the decision to proceed with the project. The environmental analysis process could be more effective if regular monitoring, detailed in the EIA, continues during project implementation. Geothermal development EIAs should be analytic rather than encyclopedic, emphasizing the impacts most closely associated with energy sector development. Air quality, water resources and quality, geologic factors, and socioeconomic issues will invariably be the most important factors. The purpose of an EIA should not be to generate paperwork, but to enable superb response. The EIA should be intended to help public officials make decisions that are based on an understanding of environmental consequences and take proper actions. The EIA process has been defined in different ways throughout the world. In fact, it appears that no two countries have defined it in exactly the same way. Going hand in hand with the different approaches to the process is the wide variety of formats available. It is recommended that the world geothermal community work towards the adoption of a standard. The Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)(OLADE, 1993) prepared a guide that presents a comprehensive discussion of the environmental impacts and suggested mitigation alternatives associated with geothermal development projects. The OLADE guide is a good start for providing the geothermal community a standard EIA format. As decision makers may only read the Executive Summary of the EIA, this summary should be well written and present the significant impacts (in order of importance), clarifying which are unavoidable and which are irreversible; the measures which can be taken to mitigate them; the cumulative effects of impacts; and the requirements for monitoring and supervision. Quality plans and Public Participation plans should also be included as part of the environmental analysis process.

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INIS; OSTI as DE00757443

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  • World Geothermal Congress 2000, Kyushu - Tohoku, Japan, 05/28/2000--06/10/2000

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  • Report No.: LA-UR-99-4522
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-36
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 757443
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc705981

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • May 28, 2000

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 12, 2015, 6:31 a.m.

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  • March 24, 2016, 8:38 p.m.

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Goff, S.J. Effective use of environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for geothermal development projects, article, May 28, 2000; New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc705981/: accessed October 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.