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CLEANR & Newkirk Center for Science & Society Speaker Series

February 15, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Charles Lee
U.S. EPA’s Emerging Cumulative Impacts Framework: Implications for Research, Policy and Practice

The UCI Law Center for Land, Environment and Natural Resources (CLEANR) and UCI Newkirk Center for Science & Society welcome environmental justice pioneer Charles Lee.


Lee will present key concepts associated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s emerging framework to assess and address cumulative impacts and their implications for research, policy development and practice. In EPA’s Equity Action Plan pursuant to Executive Order 13985, the agency determined that lack of a consistent, cross-agency framework to address cumulative environmental impacts is a major barrier to achieving equity. Cumulative impact assessment is a research and policy area of tremendous vibrancy and growth. For example, by 2023, one quarter of states in the U.S. had pending or enacted legislation regarding cumulative impacts. As an area that points to major shortcomings in the way that environmental protection has evolved over the past fifty years, cumulative impact assessment continues to call for new paradigms and sound scientific foundations. Lee will consider issues including: (1) the relationship between cumulative and disproportionate impacts, including implications of addressing the relationship between the concentration and distribution of environmental burdens and benefits; (2) how to ensure that the totality of exposures of overburdened communities is considered when assessing and addressing cumulative impacts; (3) how to ensure that information from disproportionate and cumulative impact assessments fits with and informs pertinent regulatory decision structures; (4) how to ensure that EPA’s approaches to cumulative impact assessment and cumulative risk assessment complement and reinforce each other to best inform decisions; and (5) how to facilitate greater attention to and action on upstream factors such as land use planning and infrastructure investment. These and related conversations underway at agencies such as EPA require input and collective learning from multiple academic disciplines and broad sectors of society.




UC Irvine Law Center for Land, Environment and Natural Resources
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