Cumulative Impacts Project
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'Cumulative impacts' refers to the total harm to human health and the environment that results from combinations of assaults and stressors over time. The Cumulative Impacts Project is dedicated to promoting science, law, and policy that will reduce cumulative impacts.
Law Science Policy

Featured Projects

This page highlights some local, state, and federal programs and projects that are developing new ways to address cumulative impacts, with an emphasis on environmental justice. These range from volunteer community programs to US EPA initiatives.

Related entries are grouped together.

Contact us to share cumulative impacts work you are doing or to network with others involved in cumulative impacts work.

Added 03/10/2011

CalEPA environmental justice action plan

October 2004 Environmental Justice Action Plan. Sacramento, Calif.: California Environmental Protection Agency, 2004. This document commits CalEPA to developing guidance on cumulative impacts and precautionary approaches as an essential part of the state's strategy for addressing environmental justice.
Added 03/10/2011

Cal/EPA cumulative impacts report

Cumulative Impacts: Building a Scientific Foundation. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessments (OEHHA) of California EPA, December 2010. This landmark report “presents the first step in developing a screening methodology to evaluate the cumulative impacts of multiple sources of pollution in specific communities or geographic areas.” Cal/EPA intends to develop guidelines to accompany the method.  For useful, detailed information on the screening method, see this website. See also the Cumulative Impacts and Precautionary Approaches (CIPA) Work Group, appointed by Cal/EPA to help develop this report as well as precautionary approaches to solving the cumulative impacts problem.

Added 03/10/2011

Screening tool, California

The Cumulative Impacts (CI) screening method being developed by a California academic team, working with environmental justice advocates, is a “visual mapping tool and a scoring procedure that examines cumulative impacts in neighborhoods along four dimensions: proximity to hazards, health risk indicators, social vulnerability indicators, and land use.” This website includes a wealth of information, especially December 2010 workshop presentations explaining the method and its evolution, including helpful notes of talks and discussion as well as Power Point presentations. See also the CalEPA cumulative impacts report endorsing this method.

Added 03/16/2011

New Jersey strategies to address cumulative impacts

Strategies for Addressing Cumulative Impacts in Environmental Justice Communities. Environmental Justice Advisory Council (EJAC) to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, March 2009.  As a result of this report, EJAC is now considering whether a new state law should encourage or even require environmental impact assessments that would include the cumulative impacts of decisions on the three environments (natural, built, and social).

Added 03/10/2011

New Jersey comparative risk project

Final Report of the New Jersey Comparative Risk Project (NJCRP). Trenton, N.J.: N.J. Department of Environmental Protection, March, 2003. This amazing report, plus appendices, is available on the NJCRP web site, including executive summary, ranking and summaries of 88 environmental stressors, and much more. Largely ignored since its publication in 2003 the document was produced under the guidance of a Princeton University professor and an employee of DuPont and thus seems unlikely to have exaggerated the problems it analyzed. Based on the information in Appendix 4 ("Human Health"), Peter Montague wrote a summary of toxic exposures to which the residents of N.J. are routinely subjected.

Added 03/16/2011

Screening tool, New Jersey

 A Preliminary Screening Method to Estimate Cumulative Environmental Impacts. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, December 22, 2009. Includes an appendix reviewing literature on other screening tools as of that date.

Added 01/06/2012

Minneapolis cumulative impacts air permitting journal report

Cumulative Risk Assessment and Environmental Equity in Air Permitting: Interpretation, Methods, Community Participation and Implementation of a Unique Statute. Kristie M. Ellickson  and others,  Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 4 November 2011. The 2008 Minnesota Legislature passed a law that requires the MN Pollution Control Agency to analyze and consider “cumulative levels and effects of past and current pollution,” before a permit may be issued for a facility located in a specific area of South Minneapolis. This open-access journal article presents the definitive overview of the entire process and findings.

Added 03/16/2011

Minneapolis cumulative impacts air permitting

The 2008 Minnesota Legislature passed a law that requires the MN Pollution Control Agency to analyze and consider “cumulative levels and effects of past and current pollution,” before a permit may be issued for a facility located in a specific area of South Minneapolis. This website includes fact sheets, updates, and procedures. See especially this process document and reference document.

Added 03/10/2011

Green zones in Los Angeles

Los Angeles' 'green zone' plan is aimed at low-income, high-pollution areas. Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times, January 21, 2011. 'Toxic hot spots' Pacoima, Boyle Heights and Wilmington would get incentives to attract clean industries. Polluters would be targeted with tougher inspections and enforcement. See also the Cleanup/Greenup website.

Added 05/23/2011

Los Angeles cumulative impacts

Overview: Cumulative Environmental Impacts in L.A. Elva Yanez, News from the Frontlines (Liberty Hill Foundation blog), April 13, 2011. Contains links to Power Point presentations from an April 6 policy briefing on L.A. cumulative impacts.

Added 04/19/2012

Los Angeles cumulative impacts

Up in the Air: The Fight for Clean Air in Boyle Heights. Correspondent: Vince Gonzales. Producer: Rebecca Haggerty. KCET-TV, February 24, 2012. 8-minute video and transcript. A fine report on cumulative impacts in the Boyle Heights community of Los Angeles and the Cleanup/Green-up campaign to improve air quality.

Added 06/09/2011

Northport community awareness project

A Community Awareness Program designed to Educate, Protect, and Empower the residents of Northport, Washington. Jamie Paparich: There is nothing we can do about the impact the past pollutants we were unknowingly exposed to for decades have done to our health. However, by participating in surveys and studies, you can impact the health of future generations for the better.”

Added 04/08/2011

Non-medical “prescriptions”

The Health Leads program mobilizes undergraduate volunteers, in partnership with providers in urban clinics, to connect low-income patients with the basic resources — such as food, housing, and heating assistance — that they need to be healthy. See also this NYTimes article about the program.

Added 04/08/2011

Promise Neighborhoods

Inspired by the success of Harlem Children’s Zone, the federal Promise Neighborhoods program is a comprehensive place-based approach to support children from birth through college. Promise Neighborhoods are primarily about improving education but take a holistic approach that recognizes that issues related to education, housing, and health are linked inextricably. For a list of grantees and projects see The Promise Neighborhood Institute.

Added 07/11/2011

Partnership for Sustainable Communities

This partnership of three federal agencies, HUD, DOT, and EPA, works to coordinate federal housing, transportation, water, and other infrastructure investments to make neighborhoods more prosperous, allow people to live closer to jobs, save households time and money, and reduce pollution.

Added 08/10/2011

National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)

US launches eco-network. Jeff Tollefson, Nature, August 9, 2011. An ambitious project to systematically monitor the environment on a continental scale is finally ready to break ground. The result will be a vast database that scientists can mine to tackle broad questions such as how global warming, pollution and land-use change are affecting ecosystems across the country.

Added 08/16/2011

Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center

Solving eco-challenges with today’s data. Dan Watson, Miller-McCune, August 16, 2011. The new Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, a project of the University of Maryland, will focus entirely on the processing and better utilization of existing information. The center’s goal is to fill gaps between scholarship and public policy, and between environmental science and social science.

Added 07/25/2011

Copper-producing communities

Their Mines, Our Stories: Work, Environment and Justice in ASARCO-Impacted Communities is a multimedia case study of one corporation in a complex relationship with many communities, unions, and public entities.

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