The current morass of federal environmental laws has led to significant conflicts among statutes and the manner in which agencies implement them. In recent years, this quagmire of environmental laws has hindered the progress of a number of high-profile environmental regulatory programs and restoration projects. Neither the Courts nor legal scholars have developed approaches to resolving conflicts in a manner that harmonizes environmental statutes while at the same time protecting the most critical environmental resources. A standard methodology that optimizes the multiple objectives of environmental statutes and their implementing programs would greatly enhance decision-making and ensure that the most salient environmental objectives are met. Multi-objective optimization is a decision-making methodology that seeks to optimize multiple objectives. Although this methodology has been used widely in the business world and in scientific decision-making, it has not yet made its way into the legal discourse. This article suggests multi-objective optimization as a structured decision support tool for prioritizing environmental objectives and reconciling regulatory programs.
Mary Jane Angelo, Discordant Environmental Laws: Using Statutory Flexibility and Multi-Objective Optimization to Reconcile Conflicting Laws, 38 Stan. Envtl. L. J. 165 (2019)