Environmental law cases, such as those involving the Clean Air Act, are some of the most complicated, drawn out cases that attorneys handle. The Environmental Protection Agency enforces the provisions of the Clean Air Act, and, in some cases the Agency will agree to participate in mediation. This is particularly true if there is a community aspect to the case, such as a large group of people affected.
As an attorney, it is important to know when mediation may be a good option for your clients. For example, in many environmental cases, the parties are very emotional about an incident that has occurred. Sometimes the government’s position is rigid due to reluctance to cause a backlash from a disappointed group. In this case, mediation may be the best route to try to take. It is most feasible where there is some leadership within the affected community that could represent it adequately at the mediation. The parties will be able to air their concerns and grievances to a mediator, who will then explain the strengths and weaknesses of their case. Often, having a third party with a fresh perspective on the case is all some parties need to be convinced that they should, in fact, attempt settlement. Even a strident group includes people that understand a willingness to compromise can preserve or even create elements of a situation that makes the outcome acceptable to all sides.