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Does collaboration affect the duration of environmental permitting processes?

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While collaborative governance has many benefits for environmental planning and management, those benefits are not politically feasible if they impact on process efficiency. This study assesses collaboration's effect on the duration of water permitting processes, specifically the United States’ Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's hydropower relicensing process. Collaboration was measured using a survey of participants in 24 recent hydropower relicensing processes. A Cox proportional hazards model with mixed effects assessed the relationship between collaboration, regulatory framework, hydropower facility characteristics, and relicensing process duration. Collaboration was not associated with time to license. Instead, process duration depended on the regulatory framework (especially the switch to the Integrated Licensing Process and presence of endangered species) and facility characteristics (generating capacity and facility type). The results suggest that agencies should consider engaging collaboratively during planning and permitting, given that collaboration's benefits to decision quality do not incur a cost on overall process time.
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Keywords: FERC hydropower relicensing; collaborative governance; process efficiency; water resources planning and management

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Planning, Policy and Design, University of California, Irvine, CA, United States

Publication date: March 21, 2018

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