Lessons Learned from Two Decades of Alternative Dispute Resolution Programs and Processes at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

By O'Leary, Rosemary; Raines, Susan Summers | Public Administration Review, November-December 2001 | Go to article overview

Lessons Learned from Two Decades of Alternative Dispute Resolution Programs and Processes at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


O'Leary, Rosemary, Raines, Susan Summers, Public Administration Review


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced plans to increase the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques and practices across all agency programs. (1) In this context, ADR refers to the variety of approaches that allow parties to meet face to face to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the issues in a dispute or potentially controversial situation (Bingham 1986). ADR is often viewed as an intervention between conflicting parties or viewpoints to promote reconciliation, settlement, compromise, or understanding (McCrory 1981). This includes mere assistance from a neutral third party to the negotiation process (Bingham et al. 1987). Such assistance can be directed toward settling disputes that arise out of past events, or it can be directed toward establishing rules to govern future conduct (Eisenberg 1976).

For the purposes of this research, we focus on ADR as a negotiation tool through which third-party neutral facilitators and mediators (herein referred to as "neutrals") are called upon to aid parties' attempts to resolve disputes related to EPA enforcement activities. The EPA's efforts in this area began in earnest in 1981. Table 1 provides a historical overview of the agency's ADR efforts.

This article analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the program, as well as 10 lessons learned from the EPA's experiences that can be used to improve ADR programs at the EPA and other federal and state agencies. The data for this effort were collected from archival records, government statistics, and interviews with four key stakeholder groups: EPA attorneys, potentially responsible parties (PRPs--defendants in EPA enforcement actions), (2) the EPA's ADR specialists, and professional third-party neutrals. We hope these findings will be of assistance to the EPA as it expands its ADR efforts and will provide useful lessons for other agencies and organizations considering similar programs.

The Literature

The essence of ADR is face-to-face meetings of stakeholders to reach a consensus decision that best satisfies their interests. Based on the extant literature, O'Leary et al. (1999) identify five principle elements of ADR: (1) the parties agree to participate in the process; (2) the parties or their representatives directly participate; (3) a third-party neutral helps the parties reach agreement but has no authority to impose a solution; (4) the parties must be able to agree on the outcome; and (5) any participant may withdraw and seek a resolution elsewhere.

The literature is rife with normative pleas to increase the role of the lay public and interested stakeholders in resolving environmental disputes. One author, for example, argues that participation in the resolution of water conflicts in the western United States is a fundamental tenet of our democratic government (Waller 1995). Other literature focuses on problems that might be more amicably and more efficiently resolved through ADR. For instance, Whitman (1993) argues that the use of ADR techniques could greatly improve the management of hazardous waste cleanups. A study of intergovernmental conflict stemming from North Carolina state laws that regulate solid waste concludes that state and local governments may be able to positively resolve disputes by adopting a problem-solving stance and searching for win-win results (Jenks 1994). The EPA's Office of Site Remediation states in one of its publications that there are several benefits of using ADR in its environmental enforcement actions: lower transaction costs, a focus on problem solving (as opposed to positioning), settlement options that are more likely to be tailored to stakeholders' needs, and time savings (EPA 1995).

Describing ADR as a more effective problem-solving or policy-making method than alternatives such as litigation or traditional role-making procedures is a common theme. Examples of analyses that do not include enforcement ADR at the EPA are deHaven-Smith and Wodraska (1996), who examine consensus building in integrated resources planning within the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; Kerwin and Langbein (1995), who analyze negotiated rule making at EPA; Fiorino (1988), who looks at regulatory negotiation as a policy process at the EPA; Blackburn (1988), who examines environmental mediation as an alternative to litigation; and Perritt (1986), who analyzes the use of ADR techniques in negotiated rule making. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Lessons Learned from Two Decades of Alternative Dispute Resolution Programs and Processes at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.