Resolving Environmental Regulatory Disputes

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Rules and regulations set by government agencies are meant to protect the environment, but they often impose hardships on the very companies and communities they are designed to protect. These groups then seek to minimize the losses through long and costly litigation.

In this volume, professors Susskind, Bacow and Wheeler offer an alternative to expensive and time consuming legal proceedings: informal and voluntary bargaining between companies, communities, and government agencies. They suggest that informal methods of dispute resolution may result in more beneficial outcomes for all the parties than would otherwise be achieved through litigation.

In particular they argue that informal negotiation offers several advantages over litigation, including: 1) a reduction in the risk to the parties associated with the uncertainty of win-all or lose-all litigation; 2) a reduction in court costs, legal fees, inflationary delays, and other conflict-related expenses; 3) an increase in the efficiency of the outcome (an outcome is more efficient if all disputants or stakeholders prefer it to all other feasible outcomes); 4) an increase in the likelihood of achieving a stable agreement (an agreement is stable if it is subsequently honored by all the parties for at least several years).

The editors provide seven case studies of recent environmental disputes in various parts of the country. These involve the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to regulate a pulp and paper company in New Hampshire, a chemical manufacturing company in Tennessee, a power company in Montana, a sewage treatment plant in Wyoming, a coal burning utility in Massachusetts, and a water treatment complex in Colorado. These interesting and well-developed case studies demonstrate the advantages of informal resolution of regulatory disputes, as well as some of the obstacles.

Resolving Environmental Regulatory Disputes Attributes

Author: Lawrence Susskind, Lawrence Bacow, and Michael Wheeler.
Publisher: Cambridge, MA: Schenkman Books, 1983