27 April 2006

US Healthy Places Act of 2006

More information on the Healthy Places Act of 2006 that we posted on previously is now available. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. You can track its progress on GovTrack. It's probably important that we, as HIA practitioners, don't get our hopes up - most bills never make it out of committee.

You can download a copy of the bill [PDF 87Kb] if you'd like to read it int full, but the HIA related sections are:
SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS. ...
(5) HEALTH IMPACT ASSESSMENT- The term `health impact assessment' means any combination of procedures, methods, tools, and means used under section 4 to analyze the actual or potential effects of a policy, program, or project on the health of a population (including the distribution of those effects within the population).

... (Read More)

SEC. 4. HEALTH IMPACT ASSESSMENTS.

a) Definition of Eligible Entity- In this section, the term `eligible entity' means any unit of State or local government the jurisdiction of which includes individuals or populations the health of which are or will be affected by an activity or a proposed activity.

(b) Establishment- The Secretary, acting through the Director and in collaboration with the Administrator, shall--

(1) establish a program at the National Center of Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focused on advancing the field of health impact assessment, including--

(A) collecting and disseminating best practices;
(B) administering capacity building grants, in accordance with subsection (d);
(C) providing technical assistance;
(D) providing training;
(E) conducting evaluations; and
(F) awarding competitive extramural research grants;

(2) in accordance with subsection (f), develop guidance to conduct health impact assessments; and

(3) establish a grant program to allow eligible entities to conduct health impact assessments.

(c) Guidance- The Director, in collaboration with the IWG, shall--

(1) develop guidance for the assessment of the potential health effects of land use, housing, and transportation policy and plans, including--

(A) background on international efforts to bridge urban planning and public health institutions and disciplines, including a review of health impact assessment best practices internationally;
(B) evidence-based causal pathways that link urban planning, transportation, and housing policy and objectives to human health objectives;
(C) data resources and quantitative and qualitative forecasting methods to evaluate both the status of health determinants and health effects; and
(D) best practices for inclusive public involvement in planning decision-making;

(2) not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, promulgate the guidance; and

(3) present the guidance to the public at the annual conference described in section 3(e)(2).

(d) Grant Program- The Secretary, acting through the Director and in collaboration with the Administrator, shall establish a program under which the Secretary shall provide funding and technical assistance to eligible entities to prepare health impact assessments--

(1) to ensure that appropriate health factors are taken into consideration as early as practicable during any planning, review, or decision-making process; and

(2) to evaluate the effect on the health of individuals and populations, and on social and economic development, of decisions made outside of the health sector that result in modifications of a physical or social environment.

(e) Applications-

(1) IN GENERAL- To receive a grant under this section, an eligible entity shall submit to the Secretary an application in accordance with this subsection, in such time, in such manner, and containing such additional information as the Secretary may require.

(2) INCLUSION-

(A) IN GENERAL- An application under this subsection shall include an assessment by the eligible entity of the probability that an applicable activity or proposed activity will have at least 1 significant, adverse health effect on an individual or population in the jurisdiction of the eligible entity, based on the criteria described in subparagraph (B).
(B) CRITERIA- The criteria referred to in subparagraph (A) include, with respect to the applicable activity or proposed activity--

(i) any substantial adverse effect on--

(I) existing air quality, ground or surface water quality or quantity, or traffic or noise levels;
(II) a significant habitat area;
(III) physical activity;
(IV) injury;
(V) mental health;
(VI) social capital;
(VII) accessibility;
(VIII) the character or quality of an important historical, archeological, architectural, or aesthetic resource (including neighborhood character) of the community of the eligible entity; or
(IX) any other natural resource;

(ii) any increase in--

(I) solid waste production; or
(II) problems relating to erosion, flooding, leaching, or drainage;

(iii) any requirement that a large quantity of vegetation or fauna be removed or destroyed;
(iv) any conflict with the plans or goals of the community of the eligible entity;
(v) any major change in the quantity or type of energy used by the community of the eligible entity;
(vi) any hazard presented to human health;
(vii) any substantial change in the use, or intensity of use, of land in the jurisdiction of the eligible entity, including agricultural, open space, and recreational uses;
(viii) the probability that the activity or proposed activity will result in an increase in tourism in the jurisdiction of the eligible entity;
(ix) any substantial, adverse aggregate impact on environmental health resulting from--

(I) changes caused by the activity or proposed activity to 2 or more elements of the environment; or
(II) 2 or more related actions carried out under the activity or proposed activity; and

(x) any other significant change of concern, as determined by the eligible entity.

(C) FACTORS FOR CONSIDERATION- In making an assessment under subparagraph (A), an eligible entity may take into consideration any reasonable, direct, indirect, or cumulative effect relating to the applicable activity or proposed activity, including the effect of any action that is--

(i) included in the long-range plan relating to the activity or proposed activity;
(ii) likely to be carried out in coordination with the activity or proposed activity;
(iii) dependent on the occurrence of the activity or proposed activity; or
(iv) likely to have a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged populations.

(f) Use of Funds-

(1) IN GENERAL- An eligible entity shall use assistance received under this section to prepare and submit to the Secretary a health impact assessment in accordance with this subsection.

(2) PURPOSES- The purposes of a health impact assessment are--

(A) to facilitate the involvement of State and local health officials in community planning and land use decisions to identify any potential health concern relating to an activity or proposed activity;

(B) to provide for an investigation of any health-related issue addressed in an environmental impact statement or policy appraisal relating to an activity or a proposed activity;

(C) to describe and compare alternatives (including no-action alternatives) to an activity or a proposed activity to provide clarification with respect to the costs and benefits of the activity or proposed activity; and

(D) to contribute to the findings of an environmental impact statement with respect to the terms and conditions of implementing an activity or a proposed activity, as necessary.

(3) REQUIREMENTS- A health impact assessment prepared under this subsection shall--

(A) describe the relevance of the applicable activity or proposed activity (including the policy of the activity) with respect to health issues;

(B) assess each health impact of the applicable activity or proposed activity;

(C) provide recommendations of the eligible entity with respect to--

(i) the mitigation of any adverse impact on health of the applicable activity or proposed activity; or
(ii) the encouragement of any positive impact of the applicable activity or proposed activity;

(D) provide for monitoring of the impacts on health of the applicable activity or proposed activity, as the eligible entity determines to be appropriate; and

(E) include a list of each comment received with respect to the health impact assessment under subsection (g).

(4) METHODOLOGY- In preparing a health impact assessment under this subsection, an eligible entity--

(A) shall follow guidelines developed by the Director, in collaboration with the IWG, that--

(i) are consistent with subsection (c);
(ii) will be established not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act; and
(iii) will be made publicly available at the annual conference described in section 3(e)(2); and

(B) may establish a balance, as the eligible entity determines to be appropriate, between the use of--

(i) rigorous methods requiring special skills or increased use of resources; and
(ii) expedient, cost-effective measures.

(g) Public Participation-

(1) IN GENERAL- Before preparing and submitting to the Secretary a final health impact assessment, an eligible entity shall request and take into consideration public and agency comments, in accordance with this subsection.

(2) REQUIREMENT- Not later than 30 days after the date on which a draft health impact assessment is completed, an eligible entity shall submit the draft health impact assessment to each Federal agency, and each State and local organization, that--

(A) has jurisdiction with respect to the activity or proposed activity to which the health impact assessment applies;

(B) has special knowledge with respect to an environmental or health impact of the activity or proposed activity; or
(C) is authorized to develop or enforce any environmental standard relating to the activity or proposed activity.

(3) COMMENTS REQUESTED-

(A) REQUEST BY ELIGIBLE ENTITY- An eligible entity may request comments with respect to a health impact assessment from--

(i) affected Indian tribes;
(ii) interested or affected individuals or organizations; and
(iii) any other State or local agency, as the eligible entity determines to be appropriate.

(B) REQUEST BY OTHERS- Any interested or affected agency, organization, or individual may--

(i) request an opportunity to comment on a health impact assessment; and
(ii) submit to the appropriate eligible entity comments with respect to the health impact assessment by not later than--

(I) for a Federal, State, or local government agency or organization, the date on which a final health impact assessment is prepared; and
(II) for any other individual or organization, the date described in subclause (I) or another date, as the eligible entity may determine.

(4) RESPONSE TO COMMENTS- A final health impact assessment shall describe the response of the eligible entity to comments received within a 90-day period under this subsection, including--

(A) a description of any means by which the eligible entity, as a result of such a comment--

(i) modified an alternative recommended with respect to the applicable activity or proposed activity;
(ii) developed and evaluated any alternative not previously considered by the eligible entity;
(iii) supplemented, improved, or modified an analysis of the eligible entity; or
(iv) made any factual correction to the health impact assessment; and

(B) for any comment with respect to which the eligible entity took no action, an explanation of the reasons why no action was taken and, if appropriate, a description of the circumstances under which the eligible entity would take such an action.

(h) Health Impact Assessment Database- The Secretary, acting through the Director and in collaboration with the Administrator, shall establish and maintain a health impact assessment database, including--

(1) a catalog of health impact assessments received under this section;
(2) an inventory of tools used by eligible entities to prepare draft and final health impact assessments; and
(3) guidance for eligible entities with respect to the selection of appropriate tools described in paragraph (2).

(i) Authorization of Appropriations- There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section such sums as are necessary.