Has NEPA Evolution to Accommodate Alternative Delivery (i.e., Design Build) Led to a Positive Outcome Relative to NEPA Intent?
Research Idea Scope
Many infrastructure industry providers have migrated towards alternative delivery (in lieu of traditional design bid build approaches) to more quickly and efficiently deliver infrastructure for the public good. As a consequence, many required and/or necessary processes have had to “evolve” to support such delivery methods and NEPA has been one of them. But, has the law’s intent been satisfied as a result. Stories abound on contractor’s noncompliance of mitigation plans (and despite regulatory fines) in order to maximize profit. Essentially, projects the public thought they were getting may not be what the contractor and the project sponsor actually provide.
Urgency and Payoff
NEPA historically emphasized hard look, reasonable person, and full disclosure elements to support objective informed decision making. It also leveled the playing field and subsequent mitigation reflected a rounded approach to making a project a part of the community and not a part from the community. Contractors and DB advocates have altered the playing field by suggesting some things are more important than others and THEY get to decide on such importance. Federal environmental policy is in question and will continue to be so.