Last week FERC issued a new license for operation of the 16.8 MW project in Cobb and Fulton counties in Georgia. This project occupies 14.4 acres of Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.The Coalition and its members- American Rivers and Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper had sent in comments on the Environmental Assessment prepared by FERC for the project.
Industrial and environmental interests are accustomed to fighting to "win" disputes over the licensing of facilities and the related management of natural resources. Such processes have their drawbacks both in terms of efficiency and the results they may produce. While regarding both efficiency and potential outcomes federal judge Henry Friendly observed "under our adversary system the role of counsel is not to make sure the truth is ascertained but to advance his clients cause by any ethical means ... Causing delay and sowing confusion not only are his right but may be his duty."
Thus, increasingly both environmental and developmental interests have realized how unwieldy, expensive, and unnecessarily polarizing such models are in cases involving complex environmental and economic development issues. For several years a number of forward thinking companies have voluntarily opted for an alternative collaborative approach to balancing disparate natural rescue management interests, inviting environmentalists into the decision making process in order to reach agreement with these interests prior to presenting a management proposal to regulatory authorities. Such collaborative approaches are being used more frequently in FERC relicensing proceedings.