Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Public administration, Environmental law -- United States -- Citizen participation, Environmental protection -- Law and legislation -- United States, Natural resources -- United States -- Management -- Citizen participation


In March 2006, the National Policy Consensus Center (NPCC) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) co-hosted a multi-stakeholder Colloquium to consider whether collaborative approaches would allow Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) to leverage environmental, public health, economic, and social benefits for communities affected by environmental law violations. A SEP is an environmentally beneficial project that a violator voluntarily agrees to perform, in addition to actions required to correct the violation(s), as part of an enforcement settlement.

Colloquium participants explored the benefits of expanding the SEP process to incorporate multisector, community-based collaborations in the selection, design, and/or implementation of a SEP. They examined how a community-based collaborative SEP can leverage community investments and opportunities to achieve the affected community’s economic and environmental justice objectives with minimal additional government resources. They discussed how to encourage regulatory agencies and responsible parties (violators) to adopt collaborative approaches as a better way of undertaking SEPs.

Five Key Conclusions and Recommendations emerged from the Colloquium and subsequent work:

  • SEPs are underutilized generally; US EPA and states should examine how to expand opportunities for SEPs, especially where there may be enhanced benefits for the affected community.
  • Collaborative governance processes can lead to greater community benefits by leveraging SEPs with other investments, actions, and commitments.
  • US EPA and states should consider (1) undertaking pilot collaborative SEPs to determine violator and community interest and (2) developing appropriate “best practices” for each state based on a collaborative governance process such as the Public Solutions model developed by NPCC.
  • Agencies should consider developing publicly accessible SEP libraries, idea banks, and fund banks to expand the opportunities for SEPs and make the process more efficient, transparent, and accessible.
  • Agencies could benefit by examining SEP policies and practices, enhancing opportunities for collaborative SEPs and incorporating “best practices” for them

The need for publicly accessible SEP information was an overarching theme of the Colloquium. Information is the key to a transparent and inclusive SEP process, particularly a collaborative SEP with the potential for community involvement and investment. Increased public accessibility to SEP information--including project identification--is a prerequisite for a community-based collaborative SEP.


Proceedings of a Colloquium held in March 2006, co-hosted by the National Policy Consensus Center and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

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