Resolving Environmental Issues in Energy Development

Roles for the Department Of Energy and Its Field Offices

by Phyllis L. Ellickson, Edward W. Merrow

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Summary of two RAND studies of the governmental role in resolving environmental issues arising from implementation of energy programs. Governmental decisionmakers are increasingly concerned about reconciling energy and environmental goals. This study asks what the Department of Energy (DOE) might do to resolve such conflicts. The government's most effective role is improving communications among concerned parties. This requires flexibility and evenhandedness as well as an understanding of local conditions and a commitment to appropriate local solutions. In general, the federal government should provide funds, conduct studies, and mediate disputes only when local resources are inadequate. When a DOE presence is appropriate, its activities should be channeled through a regional office or some other on-site organizational structure. Many of the criteria for effective governmental participation in resolving environmental conflicts require detailed knowledge of local conditions. For this reason, DOE field offices provide the most logical tool for creating and maintaining a credible local presence.

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