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Government agencies are often required to conduct some form of environmental impact assessment (EIA) before approving a major project or proposal. The documents generated during these assessments contain a wealth of information about baseline environmental conditions, impact assessment methodologies, predicted impacts, and mitigation measures, among other things. This information is compiled at great effort and expense and is valuable in many different applications. Unfortunately, the challenge of locating and searching through these documents poses a serious impediment to effectively harnessing the information contained therein.

Granted, public access to EIA documents has improved considerably in the past decade. Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) are now routinely posted online as searchable PDFs, which is a vast improvement over hard copy circulation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and several other entities have also created online databases of EISs and other EIA documents, which allow users to search records by title, agency, data, and other parameters. These databases make it easier to find and download specific documents, but they are limited in scope and they lack certain features that would make it much easier to aggregate and synthesize information across multiple documents, such as a full text search feature.


Environmental Law | Law