An Introduction to Cumulative Impact Assessment – Why and Where to Begin?

February 16, 2024  
11:00 am
- 12:00 pm

Watch the Recording  

Background Chemical and non-chemical stressors are not evenly distributed in an environment, nor do they operate in isolation. Similarly, people are not exposed to one stressor at a time, but rather are subject to multiple types of stressors from the natural, built, and social environments simultaneously. Cumulative impacts research that focuses on the totality of exposures (both beneficial and adverse) from such stressors on health and well-being is needed in order to address the overlapping environmental and social burdens experienced by many communities, including historically marginalized communities. Cumulative Impact Assessment has also recently been highlighted as a priority for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its efforts to better serve these communities. However, there is no standardized guidance or design for assessing the cumulative impacts of chemical and non-chemical stressors on health. Many templates or guidance documents are agency, regulation, or sector specific. Within the context of unconventional oil and gas (UOGD) development research, HEI Energy is well-positioned to synthesize what is already known from HEI Energy’s currently funded research and what has been learned about the adverse and beneficial impacts on communities over the past two decades to produce a Cumulative Impact Assessment design for a representative oil and gas community in the United States. Such a design could also serve as a model for similar analyses in other communities affected by the energy transition (e.g., hydrogen hub communities).

About the Webinar Series This webinar series is being co-organized by HEI’s Environmental Justice program and Energy Research Program as part of a special project: Designing a Cumulative Impact Assessment for an Oil and Gas Community in the United States. This series of webinars will inform the conceptualization of the design for oil and gas communities and aims to bring together voices from academia, government, industry, and communities across the field of impact assessment.

The primary objectives of the special project are as follows:
1. Synthesize what is known about unconventional oil and gas development exposures and health and well-being.
2. Support decision-making about how best to ensure the protection of public health by identifying the most important health stressors.
3. Learn from our collective experience in oil and gas communities to protect future energy communities.
4. Inform policymakers, communities, researchers, and others implementing cumulative impact assessments on specific methodologies.
5. Educate on cumulative impacts research.

Overview of the Webinar This webinar, co-organized by HEI Energy and HEI’s EJ program, will introduce the topic of cumulative impacts research and cumulative impact assessment. The primary goal is to gain a broad understanding of cumulative impact assessment, and the challenges and opportunities associated with designing and conducting these assessments.

The speakers will address the following questions:
1. What is cumulative impact assessment? How are cumulative impacts defined? How can these assessments contribute to health-protective decisions? 
a. What types of chemical and non-chemical stressors and combinations of stressors are included in a cumulative impact assessment?
b. What types of approaches are used to conduct cumulative impact assessment? 
2. What are the challenges and opportunities with cumulative impact assessment and underlying research in various policy contexts? 
3. What do we need to understand about cumulative impact assessment to get the design right? What data and information do we need?


Welcome and Introduction

Julia Haggerty, Montana State University, HEI Energy Research Committee and Chair of HEI Energy Special Project Designing a Cumulative Impact Assessment for an Oil and Gas Community in the United States

Putting community first in assessing cumulative impacts

Beatriz Soto, Conservation Colorado

An environmental health and justice perspective on cumulative impacts

Rachel Morello-Frosch, University of California Berkeley

A social science perspective on cumulative impacts

Jill Blakley, University of Saskatchewan

Panel Discussion with Q&A

All Speakers; moderated by Dr. Julia Haggerty


United States

Virtual meeting space

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