The Online Magazine for Sustainable Seas
March, 2002 Vol.5 No.3
-- Excerpted from Philippine Management Guidebook Series No.7: Managing Impacts of Development in the Coastal Zone by Mary Gleason (Coastal Resource Management Project), James Maragos (United States Fish and Wildlife Service) and Lloly de Jesus (Tetra Tech EM, Inc.)
The system: Coverage and procedures
The EIS system requires completion of an EIA and preparation of an EIS report for any environmentally critical project (ECP) or any project located in an environmentally critical area (ECA) as described in Tables 1 and 2. DENR determines whether a proposal is an ECP or will be implemented in an ECA; if either or both of these conditions apply, then the proposal is required to secure an environmental compliance certificate (ECC). For ECPs, the EIS System requires preparation of an EIS because these projects will most likely have high risk or negative environmental impact. ECPs include major resource extractive projects, major infrastructure projects, fishpond development, golf course resort development, and major industrial development projects.
ECAs are areas that are ecologically, socially, or geologically sensitive; many coastal habitats such as mangroves, coral reefs, and municipal waters are classified as ECAs. For projects in ECAs, the EIS system requires an initial environmental examination (IEE) that includes a project description, and may require an EIS. After a thorough review of the project plans and EIA documents submitted by the project proponent, the project will be issued an ECC by DENR.
Projects not covered under the EIS system include:
If any of the above criteria apply, DENR-EMB or the Regional Office can issue a Certificate of Non-Coverage (Exemption Certificate) certifying that the project will not significantly affect the quality of the environment. DENR provides direction and review of the EIS System and issues an ECC. EMB is responsible for review and issuance of ECCs for all ECPs. The DENR Regional Office reviews and issues ECCs for projects located in ECAs.
DAO 96-37 also explains:
The LGU has a critical role in ensuring that all development projects in their jurisdiction that are classified as ECPs or located in ECAs are subjected to the EIA review process. While not all projects may require a detailed EIA, all proposed development activities should be screened to decide which projects need a detailed evaluation of environmental impacts. Many coastal zone habitats are considered ECAs, so an environmental review of projects in the coastal zone may be warranted under PD 1586. The LGU should also facilitate community participation through public outreach. It is in the best interests of all stakeholders to design and choose the best development and mitigation options or to encourage DENR to deny an ECC if a project does not meet environmental standards.
Review process for environmentally critical projects
EIA scoping: Ensuring stakeholder participation. Scoping should begin as soon as the project is conceptualized and is focused on identifying issues and alternatives. Scoping is crucial because it allows stakeholders – those affected by the project – to identify issues that need to be addressed in the EIA. If the proposed project requires an EIA, then a preliminary evaluation is accomplished and meetings are held among DENR, LGU, local communities, and possibly NGOs and academic institutions to decide on the scope of the EIA. Scoping helps all parties understand the level of analysis required, specify the alternatives to be evaluated, identify potential impacts, and suggest possible mitigation and monitoring measures that should be addressed. Scoping is also used to determine if an environmental risk assessment (ERA) is needed and what factors may affect social acceptability of the project. Scoping sessions and consultations are used to solicit public input. Scoping meetings are documented by the proponent and signed by all representatives of stakeholders and integrated into a scoping report that documents the consultative process.
Affected local governments and communities need to provide their input during scoping to ensure that their concerns are going to be addressed in the EIA before it is completed. The LGUs should consolidate all local input and provide it in writing directly to the proponent with copies provided to the lead national development agency and DENR-EMB. DENR and the LGUs have the responsibility to ensure that all potential environmental impacts will be addressed in the EIA and to identify issues that may affect social acceptability.
Assessing environmental and socioeconomic impacts. The EIA is done or contracted out by the project proponent and is needed as the first step in the preparation of an EIS. The EIA should include evaluation of the proposed project’s environmental and socioeconomic impacts and should identify alternatives (including the no-action alternative) and mitigation measures to reduce project impacts. The EIA should address impacts at all stages of project development from construction and operation through closure, and provide alternatives to manage and minimize impacts. The proponent submits the completed EIS to EMB which then evaluates it to determine the specific EIA System requirements for the proposal. Affected LGUs should request and obtain a copy of the submitted EIS Report, and in turn make it available to local communities and NGOs for comment.
Reporting and planning. The proponent or consultants certified by DENR accomplish the required studies and prepare the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
The EIS should contain an assessment of the most likely impacts of the project and should provide an environmental management plan (EMP) that lays out the measures to prevent or minimize impacts from the project. In addition, DENR may require the EIS to include an ERA especially if the proposal involves hazardous, toxic, flammable, or explosive materials or chemicals, or involves the construction of structures such as dams, bridges, which would endanger life, property, or the environment should they fail. An Environmental Risk Assessment Report, Risk Management Plan, and Emergency Response and Contingency Plan would accompany the EIS.
Local governments and communities should be provided the EIS for review in a timely manner, well before the EIS is finalized and forwarded to DENR for action. Comments should be compiled by the LGU and sent both to the proponent and DENR. The LGU and other reviewers should ensure that the required sections of the EIS are present (Table 3). The LGU should also note whether accredited individuals have prepared the report as directed under the EIS System (Table 4).
Review. The EIS is submitted to DENR’s EMB, which then forwards it to the EIA Review Committee (EIARC) for evaluation. The EMB will not accept an EIS document for review if it is incomplete or not adequately organized. The EIARC is composed of technically trained professionals in the natural, physical, and social sciences. It meets within 10 working days of submission of the EIS and completes its report and recommendations for an ECC within an additional 5 days.
The EIARC can hold meetings with the proponent, conduct site visits, technical tests, and consultations with the stakeholders to ensure a thorough and substantive review of the EIS. It makes a report and recommendation to the EMB Director on whether the project should be issued an ECC, and subsequently to the DENR Secretary for approval/denial of the ECC application.
Questions that should be asked by the LGU or community representatives in the course of reviewing the EIS are included in Table 5. If there are any local objections to the quality or content of the EIS, the LGU should communicate them to DENR’s EIARC.
The environmental compliance certificate. The ECC certifies that the project proponent has complied with the procedures of the EIS System. For ECPs, the EIS together with the Committee’s report is sent to the Director of the EMB, who in turn forwards documents and recommendations to the Secretary of DENR within 15 days. If the EIS and supporting documentation are complete, the Secretary makes a decision on the EIS. If documentation is incomplete, the Secretary may need more time to make a decision on the EIS and ECC or request additional input from the proponent.
Local governments and communities should continue coordinating with EMB regarding the ECC decision on a proposed project and communicate any local concerns or objections. The LGU may also want to recommend revision and follow-up coordination on the EIS to the DENR Secretary before final decisions are made on the project and its ECC.
Monitoring. After a project’s ECC has been granted, the EMP is implemented, in particular, the initiation of environmental monitoring. The primary purpose of monitoring under PD 1586 is to ensure compliance with the conditions set in the ECC and the EMP. The EMP guides the implementation of the project to ensure environmental soundness in all project phases. Monitoring is usually initiated before construction starts and continues through project construction and project operation. It helps document the actual impacts of the project and provides the opportunity for determining compliance and identifies needed corrective measures.
A multi-partite monitoring team (MMT) should be formed immediately after the issuance of the ECC to work out the operational details and develop a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that spells out the roles and responsibilities of the monitoring team and the funding required for the monitoring activities. An environmental monitoring fund (EMF) to provide funds for the monitoring team is established by the proponent before the construction phase. Normally, the core members of the team include representatives of the proponent, affected communities and women, LGU, EMB Regional Office with support from the concerned PENRO/CENRO and other sectors identified in the negotiations. The monitoring team evaluates compliance with the ECC and EMP, gathers information if damage occurs or public complaints are raised, prepares and disseminates monitoring reports, and conducts community education and information campaigns (EMB-DENR 1995).
Review Process for projects in environmentally critical areas
Initial environmental examination. The project proponent submits an initial environmental examination (IEE) to DENR’s EMB Regional Office. The IEE contains a brief project description, expected impacts, and measures to be undertaken to control, manage, or minimize impacts on the environment.
DENR-EMB processes and reviews the IEE within 30 days. DENR-EMB reviews the IEE to see if it has provided sufficient and accurate information on the project and its impact, and to ensure that the EMP will sufficiently address adverse impacts. The review team can include technical experts from DENR, other agencies, academe, and EIA practitioners. The DENR-EMB Regional Office may conduct site investigations or public consultations during the course of the review; these efforts should be coordinated through the DENR Provincial or Community Environment and Natural Resource Officers of the provinces or municipalities where the project is located. The Sector’s recommendations would then be forwarded to the Director of the DENR-EMB Regional Office for approval.
Local governments and communities would follow the same strategies to ensure involvement in the review process for proposals in ECAs as described above for ECPs. The affected LGUs can also submit coordinated comments on a proponent’s IEE and provide recommendations on the IEE, the ECC, or the project as a whole to the DENR-EMB Regional Office and the Regional DENR Director.
Decision on requirement for EIS. The DENR Regional Executive Director (RED) determines whether the Project IEE may further require an EIS, is acceptable as described, or is unacceptable. For proposals with potentially severe adverse impacts, the project itself or its ECC may be denied by the DENR Regional Executive Director, which would then force the proponent to modify the project. An EIS is required for projects expected to cause significant impacts, involving large areas, altering the landscape, or relocating communities. The EIS for a project in an ECA is subject to a similar review as an EIS prepared for an ECP, but at the regional level.
The RED determines whether an ECC will be granted or denied. For ECCs issued pursuant to an IEE, the CENRO or PENRO is tasked with monitoring compliance with the ECC and EMP.
Environmental Guarantee Fund
Social acceptability and public participation
The EIS System has provisions for public involvement and consultation. Public participation is strengthened through:
The community should be involved at all stages, but especially during scoping, review, and monitoring to ensure community support for the decisions that will be made. Ideas on how to involve communities in the EIA process are provided in Table 6 and additional information can be found in Guidebook 4: Involving Communities in Coastal Management.
If the project is socially acceptable, agreements should be made on what economic benefits should go to the community. Other agreements on environmental protection and compensation in case of damages should be reached. Agreement among parties is forged through a memorandum of agreement (MOA), which is included in the EIS or IEE.
Local governments and communities should consult frequently with DENR to learn of new projects that need to be scoped, the review schedule, decisions on the need for an EIS, and whether an ECC will be granted. If there are any objections at the local level, the LGU can write to the DENR for the rationale of the decision. Additional correspondence or public involvement may be needed to resolve differences, if any.
At the local level, the following steps should be followed by the LGU to assess impacts of proposed projects:
The LGU should strive to request, read, and understand all environmental documents to evaluate the impacts of proposed projects on the local environment. It should request explanations or assistance from DENR and ensure that local communities and governments participate at every step, from the beginning. The IEE, EIS, and ECC are public documents available upon request to DENR and should be readily available to the LGU and the community.
What if there is local opposition to development projects? A consultative process is required in the issuance of an EIS since the documentation of an MOA on social acceptability is a critical step. Local communities and governments should be involved in the project review process and communicate their objections through established channels to higher authorities at every possible step of the way, as suggested above. The stakeholders may appeal a decision made by the DENR RED in granting or denying an ECC. LGUs may compel DENR to require more extensive environmental monitoring or to conduct an environmental audit of the completed project to identify residual impacts that warrant remedy or correction. The LGU should be aware of fines and penalties for lack of compliance with the EIS System and ensure that enforcement is occurring and appropriate penalties are applied (Table 7).
Carpenter, R.A. and J.E. Maragos, Editors. 1989. How to assess environmental impacts on tropical islands and coastal areas. East-West Center, Environment and Policy Institute, South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, and the Asian Development Bank, Honolulu. 345 p.