196683 Integrating Health and Environmental Impact Assessment: A powerful new venue for developing health-focused public policy

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 2:48 PM

Aaron A. Wernham, MD, MS , Division of Community Health Services, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage, AK
This talk will present a case study of the first successful efforts to formally integrate health impact assessment (HIA) into the federal environmental impact statement (EIS) process in the U.S., and discuss this precedent as an important new venue for achieving health-focused public policy. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) created the EIS process, and since then 19 states and territories have enacted similar laws. Collectively, state and federal EISs apply to a wide spectrum of public sector decisions with implications for public health. Decisions regulated by some form of EIS include, for example, large energy and natural resource development projects, planning and permitting of road and highway projects, establishment of federal fuel economy standards, and local land-use planning and permitting decisions. Over the last four years, a growing collaborative of municipal, tribal, state, and federal health agency partners have begun use HIA as a means to integrate public health into the federal EIS process for natural resource development in Alaska. This work has been recognized by federal regulatory agencies outside Alaska as precedent setting, and opens the door for similar efforts by public health professionals elsewhere in the U.S. The talk will discuss the legal basis for integrated HIA/EIS, and focus on developing successful strategies through which municipal, state, and tribal health agencies can use the EIS process as a tool to protect and promote health.

Learning Objectives:
Identify strategies for using Health Impact Assessment to ensure health-focused public policy Discuss legal framework for addressing public health and environmental justice through environmental planning and regulatory processes

Keywords: Environmental Health, Environmental Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am experienced conducting health impact assessments within the EIS process, and I am the Director for the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.