John S. McCain III
National Center for Environmental Conflict Resolution

OMB and CEQ Joint Memoranda on ECR

On November 28, 2005, Joshua Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and James Connaughton, chairman of the President's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), issued a policy memorandum on environmental conflict resolution (ECR). This joint policy statement directs agencies to increase the effective use of ECR and their institutional capacity for collaborative problem solving.

The statement includes a definition of ECR and sets forth "Basic Principles for Agency Engagement in Environmental Conflict Resolution and Collaborative Problem Solving." It also includes a compilation of mechanisms and strategies that may be used to achieve the stated policy objectives.

This policy direction developed from a request in August 2003 by Chairman Connaughton to the National Center to work with senior staff of key federal departments and agencies to develop basic ECR principles and recommended guidance on ECR. Over the next two years, the National Center worked collaboratively with senior staff from the Departments of Agriculture, Army, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, Interior, Justice, Navy, Transportation, the Office of Management and Budget, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Council on Environmental Quality to develop basic principles and draft guidance. In November 2005, the "Memorandum on Environmental Conflict Resolution" was signed by Director Bolten and Chairman Connaughton.

The memorandum requires annual reporting by departments and agencies to OMB and CEQ on progress made each year, periodic leadership meetings, and quarterly interdepartmental senior staff meetings to be facilitated by the National Center.

In early September 2012, OMB and CEQ issued a Joint Memorandum on Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution. The memorandum expands and builds on the November 28, 2005, Memorandum on Environmental Conflict Resolution, by directing departments and agencies to increase the appropriate and effective use of third-party assisted environmental collaboration as well as environmental conflict resolution to resolve problems and conflicts that arise in the context of environmental, public lands, or natural resources issues, including matters related to energy, transportation, and water and land management.

Background for ECR Policy Memorandum
A briefing report was prepared for the June 2004 Federal Departmental Leadership meeting on Environmental Conflict Resolution. This report, revised and updated in May 2005, includes a compendium of cases and projects provided by multiple federal agencies and descriptions of programs that support ECR and collaborative problem solving. Appendices to this report provide further documentation and authorities supporting the use of ECR.

Briefing Report

In preparation for the development of the ECR Policy Memorandum, a federal department survey was conducted. The findings from this survey are reported here.

ECR Survey Findings

In 1998, Congress created the National Center as part of the Udall Foundation to provide assessment, mediation, or other related services in connection with a dispute or conflict related to environmental, natural resources, or public lands issues involving the federal government. Public Law 105-106 (Feb. 11 1998), the legislation creating the National Center, can be found here.

2012 Memorandum on Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution
2005 Memorandum on Environmental Conflict Resolution