Alternative dispute resolution in the NEPA process
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The emphasis and objectives of the decision making process prescribed by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the processes generally associated with alternative dispute resolution (ADR), when applied to environmental issues, are very similar. Both are designed to 1) provide improved exchange of relevant information, communications and trust among affected parties; 2) better informed decision making; 3) greater acceptance and therefore staying power of decisions; and 4) decreased likelihood of costly and lengthy litigation. However, despite the complimentary aspects of NEPA and ADR, this linkage does not seem to have been widely identified or utilized. More specific attention to the application of ADR techniques to the NEPA process, through increased awareness of proven ADR techniques and the use of neutral facilitators or mediators where appropriate, would enhance the ability of agencies to use the NEPA process as the decision making tool it was intended to be rather then the onerous procedural burden it seems to have become.