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Net Environmental Benefit Analysis (NEBA)

Incorporating ecosystem service valuation concepts within the alternative decision making process provides decision-makers with an opportunity to make informed choices about the net benefits of actions that affect the environment. Net environmental benefits are the gains in value of environmental services or other ecological properties attained by the action(s) minus the value of adverse environmental effects caused by the action(s). A NEBA provides a systematic, defensible and understandable approach from which stakeholders can evaluate the merits of various alternatives through the Comparative Assessment process. Decisions with these traits achieve environmental objectives in a timely and cost-effective manner, while providing a transparent basis for decision making. The overarching goal is to balance the risks, benefits and trade-offs between competing management alternatives. A NEBA is similar to a Comparative Assessment  but includes the incorporation of quantified ecosystem service values (ecological and human use) into the assessment. The NEBA approach allows for a more holistic view as to how actions affect the environment, either positively or negatively. A NEBA is also known as a net ecosystem service analysis (NESA).

EPS Staff (Joseph Nicolette) co-authored the first formalized framework for NEBA recognized by the USEPA, USEPA Science Advisory Board, NOAA, and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). EPS staff have used NEBA to assist clients in quantifying and comparing the effects that alternative actions will have on the environment. For clients, the benefits of understanding these effects has helped to reduce and manage costs, manage site risks, and maximize benefits to the environment and the public.

The NEBA approach and quantification tools can be used to achieve the following objectives:

  • Develop and evaluate a suite of alternatives (e.g., remedial alternatives)
  • Compare the value of land management approaches (e.g., preservation, restoration)
  • Provide a basis for balancing economic, human and natural resource drivers affecting proposed alternatives
  • Demonstrate environmental sustainability and stewardship
  • Support measures to weigh and rank alternatives that meet cost-effective objectives
  • Estimate the value of environmentally sensitive areas
  • Provide a means to expand the range of potentially acceptable alternatives
  • Provide documentation that provides a defensible alternative analysis and selection
  • Provide basis for establishing appropriate mitigation measures
  • Provide performance-based measures that can be used to conduct monitoring and adaptive management activities
  • Present non-arbitrary and quantifiable metrics
  • Provide a basis for both regulators and other stakeholders to support decisions

Areas associated with our staff NEBA experience:

  • Site remediation
  • Decommissioning of Offshore Oil and Gas Facilities)
  • NEPA development support (e.g., EIS, EIA, EA)
  • Oil spill response and planning strategies
  • US natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) and EU damage assessments (ELD)
  • Habitat and Resource Equivalency Analyses (HEA and REA)
  • Ecological and human health risk assessment
  • Land management actions and re-use designs (e.g., brownfield, greenfield designs)
  • Restoration, recreational area designs (e.g., eco-tourism)
  • Permitting and mitigation requirements
  • Compensatory restoration evaluation
  • Threatened and Endangered Species and Biological Assessments
  • Environmental sustainability and stewardship demonstration
  • Utilities (316a and 316b: thermal and Impingement/Entrainment Issues)
  • Land asset management and surplus property valuation
  • Due diligence (acquisition/divestiture)
  • Tax implications
  • Linear projects such as road development and corridor evaluation
  • Watershed planning
  • NPDES/TMDLs
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
  • Any actions that affect ecosystem service values

 

Example applications of NEBA for Site Remediation and Comparative Assessments for Offshore Decommissioning are provided in the following links: