consensus with other interested and affected stakeholders has been a major reason for this delay.

In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, the Corps must complete an EIS for CSOP. Although an EIS is commonly viewed as a set of required procedural steps that federal agencies must follow, it can also serve as a framework for collaboration and consensus building with other federal, state, and local agencies and tribal governments, as well as with stakeholders and nongovernmental organizations. In CSOP, the four agencies have four common goals they hope to achieve through the collaborative EIS process:

  1. reaching an interagency agreement on CSOP

  2. building a broad consensus for a CSOP solution

  3. avoiding litigation

  4. building trust among the stakeholders

Thus far, collaborative efforts among the four agencies have generated agreements on

  • a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that clarifies the roles of the four agencies in the CSOP EIS process and affirms their commitment to complete the EIS using a collaborative approach

  • CSOP's purpose and objectives

  • the base condition to which CSOP alternatives will be compared

  • the need for a new hydrologic model to assist in evaluating impacts of various CSOP alternatives (the agencies have jointly developed the scope of work, they have agreed to share the cost of development of the new model, and they will sit together as an interagency selection committee to review and evaluate proposals)

  • the sequence of modeling activities for the CSOP process

Each step in the NEPA process, from identification and evaluation of alternatives through selection of a preferred alternative, will be addressed through the collaborative process. Although the agencies ' proposed ground rules provide that they will make decisions by consensus, the MOU makes it clear that the Corps is the lead agency in the EIS process and retains responsibility and authority for the final record of decision in the CSOP EIS.

SOURCE: Analee Mayes, Consensus Builders, Inc., personal communication, 2002.

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