I received a request from Amanda Jahshan of the Natural Resources Defense Council for NEPA “Success stories”. The accumulation of information is being funded by NRDC, which I think is good because I remember when I worked for the Forest Service, we had to yard those up in-house at least once, that I recall. Plus I remember finding similar stories for the Gridlock-Busting Awards during that period.
So below is what she is looking for and I’m hoping we will treat her and her request with our well-known respect and hospitality, and also post them here. Certainly we can mutually learn from successes as well as the “problem children” we discuss every day.
I’m working on a project collecting NEPA success stories from across the country. These stories will be used for a publication (similar to this 2010 ELI publication. I came across your blog and thought that you and/or your contributors might have some leads. All stories are welcome, but we especially need recent stories (preferably since 2000) that:
1. Demonstrate the value of public input – e.g., projects made better through public input or project outcomes shaped by public input
2. Show how the NEPA process resulted in cost-savings – e.g., by choosing a less expensive alternative or avoiding unnecessary costs or more efficient project
3. Projects that avoided unanticipated problems because of public input/expertise
4. Demonstrate how NEPA increased the likelihood that the public would accept a project
5. Highlight the role NEPA plays in environmental justice and avoiding disparate impacts
It’s interesting to me how the questions are framed.. it sounds like “NEPA” is really about the value of public involvement, and not so much environmental disclosure- in fact, you could substitute the word (often critiqued by folks in the environmental law biz) “collaboration” for “NEPA” in some of these questions. While I think the difficulties that are discussed on this blog, associated with NEPA are not from the public involvement process, but having to bullet-proof analysis documents to be able to prevail in litigation.
So I think it would be good to post “success stories” here, of using collaboration or public involvement without NEPA as well just to make the case that public involvement is broader than NEPA. For example, the recent planning rule directives had a public comment period and they are not going through NEPA. I also wonder whether the environmental justice impacts to low-income rural people and communities have been adequately addressed through NEPA, because NEPA only addresses impacts of federal action, not inaction.
If you would like to send your stories directly to her, here is her email (email@example.com).