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What is an Impact Statement?

John Lister
John Lister

An impact statement is most commonly a document produced by a government or local authority when it proposes a new law or regulation. The statement will usually explore the costs of introducing and enforcing the rules and the benefits to society of doing so. In some cases, the statement will apply to a project rather than new rules. An impact statement may also assess the environmental consequences of a policy.

The phrase impact statement is most commonly used in Australia and New Zealand. In most Western countries, it is better known as a regulatory impact analysis. Within the US, the concept originally had the name "inflation impact assessment," but this became outdated as the analysis expanded to cover a wider scope.

The phrase impact statement is commonly used in New Zealand.
The phrase impact statement is commonly used in New Zealand.

Exactly what is included in an impact statement varies widely from system to system and place to place. The most common format begins with an introduction to the problem and the proposed solution, along with any alternative solutions that can be considered. The statement will then look at the costs and benefits of each of the solutions. Finally, it will give a recommendation of whether the proposed solution appears to be the best option, along with recommendations for any further research and consultation that might be necessary.

Most impact statements will use some form of cost-benefit analysis. This is a two-stage process that begins by identifying the benefits to society that are likely to result from the law or project. It then attempts to put a monetary value on these costs and benefits. The figures are usually adjusted to take into account the fact that some costs will be incurred and benefits received in future years when inflation may have had an effect.

Another form of impact statement is the environmental impact statement. This is required for federal projects in the United States, though exceptions can be made for emergency situations such as if a major bridge needs to be rebuilt after collapsing. The statement follows a similar format to a regulatory impact analysis document, but concentrates specifically on environmental effects.

There is such a thing as an impact statement outside of a business or government setting. The most common use is in the legal system of some countries. An impact statement here is made by the victim of a crime to a court after it has convicted the offender. The statement can be taken into account when deciding upon a sentence.

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Discussion Comments


@fiorite- I learned how to write an environmental impact statement at my university. I was enrolled in an urban planning program and one of the courses they offered was on writing final and draft impact statements. I do not think that you need to enroll as a degree seeking student to take these courses.

If I remember correctly there was only one prerequisite for the class, and that was an introduction to planning. This course gave an overview of planning that included NEPA environmental planning, preservation planning, and a number of other federal environmental policy acts.

Knowledge of all of these things are necessary to draft these statements so maybe you would like to consider pursuing a degree in planning, environmental science, or a business program with an environmental focus. Any of these programs should give you knowledge to help you advance in your position.


@fiorite- The final environmental impact statement is separated into four categories. The first is the purpose and need statement, which tells what the project is intended for, and why it is necessary.

The second section is the proposed action and alternative chapter. This section explains the specific components of the project as well as alternative proposals the developer is considering.

The third chapter in an impact statement is the examination of the affected environment. This section examines the current state of the environment, covering the physical, biotic, and socioeconomic aspects of the environment.

The final chapter of the impact statement is environmental effects. This section examines the actual impacts of the project on the three aspects of the environment. The last two chapters are the most important parts of an environmental impact statement.


@fiorite- Organizations and government agencies must draft an environmental impact statement for any project that will significantly affect the human environment. Four scenarios exist that cover the majority of reasons for needing an EIS statement. An EIS must be drafted if a project takes place on federal lands, uses federal grant or loan money, facilitates interstate commerce, or impacts a common resource like wetlands, endangered species, or public water.

An EIS is completed in two stages, and is merely created to present the facts about a project, not make a recommendation on its approval (Important). The first stage is the draft stage, and this is made available to the public. The final EIS is drafted after the public has received the draft and takes into account feedback from these important stakeholders.


What is an Environmental Impact Statement? Is there a standard form to consider when drafting one of these statements? I would like to learn how to draft an EIS so I can be better prepared for the changing job market. It seems like businesses are needing to draft these statements more often to comply with new and changing environmental regulations.

I started off doing clerical work within a landscape architecture firm after high school and have decided that I love the work that I do. I only have a business associates, but I would like to advance within the company or work for another similar company at a higher position. What type of training do I need to advance? I would like to stay on the business side of things rather than the design side, but I feel like I need to know the process for creating an environmental impact statement.

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    • The phrase impact statement is commonly used in New Zealand.
      By: Ruslan Olinchuk
      The phrase impact statement is commonly used in New Zealand.