EPA seeks public involvement in environmental permitting process

Published March 1, 2001

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, identifying “better public involvement” across all of its program areas as a high agency priority, released on October 23, 2000 a 121-page Public Involvement in Environmental Permits A Reference Guide.

The guide’s purpose, according to the “transmittal letter” accompanying copies sent to users, is to “help state and tribal program staff enhance their own public participation efforts; help the public learn about permits and how to engage in the permitting process; and provide examples and best practices to help permitted facilities to effectively manage their public participation activities.”

The guide was prepared under the direction of an EPA-wide workgroup, chaired by the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, as part of the agency’s Second Generation of Environmental Permitting Action Plan. The workgroup consulted with groups outside EPA, including the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and the Environmental Council of States, on early drafts. At two stakeholder meetings, one in the District of Columbia and one in Houston, Texas, comments were received from environmental groups, industry, citizen’s groups, state and national associations, and state and regional regulators.

The guide summarizes the major permitting programs under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. It also gives an overview of the core requirements for public involvement activities in these permitting programs. The guide describes best practices and a model plan for implementing effective public participation activities under these programs, and provides a compendium of additional resources and contacts for use in implementation.

For more information . . .

about the new Reference Guide, including the full text of the guide in Adobe Acrobat’s PDF format, is available on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/permits/publicguide.htm.