2008 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lennysiegel@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2008 14:45:10 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: [CPEO-BIF] Building Environmental Policy Bridges
[Please excuse the duplicate posting. - LS]

Building Environmental Policy Bridges
An Open Letter to the Presidential Candidates

Lenny Siegel
July, 2008

The last several years have been marked by a decline in the federal government's commitment to environmental protection and equally important, a hardening of the battle lines between environmental advocates and those responsible for pollution and other forms of environmental degradation. The inauguration of a new administration in 2009 presents an opportunity, not only to strengthen regulation and allocate sufficient funds to environmental programs, but also to change the way environmental disputes are resolved.

Both major presidential candidates tout their ability to create bi-partisan legislative coalitions. Indeed, the U.S. Senate's tradition of cooperating with colleagues on one issue while fighting on another is admirable. But I'm talking about something deeper in the halls of government, the use of multi-stakeholder dialogues to develop win-win solutions to difficult, often technical environmental problems.

A multi-stakeholder dialogue is a committee, usually advisory in its mission, which brings together multiple perspectives and interest groups, in and out of government, to address specific problems. Over the last three administrations I have participated in several such groups. I discuss below three of my most successful dialogues as the basis for the problem-solving model I recommend to the new administration.

Multi-stakeholder dialogues don't always work. Some disputes are too entrenched to solve cooperatively. Other policies are so overarching that they belong, from the start, in the hands of elected officials. But when they work, the dialogues not only establish better policies, but they spread knowledge and build the interpersonal relationships necessary to implement their findings and address other environmental challenges as they arise.


To download the full, three-page formatted letter, go to


Lenny Siegel
Executive Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
a project of the Pacific Studies Center
278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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