To what extent should environmentalists and businesses compromise their goals?  The NY Times Green Blog argues that their are great benefits to environmental compromise, and it can be especially effective at the local level, providing some examples.  According to the blog, “The common threads: all the outcomes had clear environmental benefits and all were achieved by finding enough common ground to satisfy everyone’s basic aims.  Sort of what Congress used to do.”  Whatever the overall merits of individual compromises, in teaching law students, I think we should remember to convey some basic points.

(1) Non-federal, local and regional solutions to environmental problems exist.

(2) Non-litigation solutions exist.

(3) Trade-offs exists, especially if transaction costs can be kept low (Coase would be proud) or where solutions both help industry or save money, and protect the environment.

(4) Understanding the reality of American energy demands and development, and when one should be willing to except second-best solutions.  If one views oil demand or some development as inevitable, decide when compromise is necessary so total ecological losses do not occur.

(5) Avoiding animosity and winner-take-all scenarios.  See above.  And friendly engagement and discussion can be productive, especially when people come from the same community.

(6) View point sharing.  Compromise can be better reached when there is greater understanding environmental values, business interests and how technology is used.