We studied the role of technical clarity in successful multi-party negotiations. Our investigations involved in-depth interviews with individuals who were the principal participants in six consultations conducted under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) hydroelectric power project licensing process. Technical clarity was especially important in the cases we studied because they concerned questions that were science-based. The principal issues in the six cases were fish passage, instream flow for fish habitat, and entrainment of fish in hydropower turbines. We concluded that technical clarity was one of the most critical elements in these conflicts. The most successful negotiations were marked by a shared understanding of technical issues among the parties.
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The importance of defining technical issues in interagency environmental negotiations