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Tools for Public Involvement

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

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Before examining the tools available to support public involvement and collaborative decision making, it may be useful to establish context by reviewing EPA’s Public Involvement and Collaboration Spectrum (PDF 8 pp, 141K, About PDF ).

Below is a list of manuals and tools for planning and conducting effective public involvement activities. Items are grouped into these categories:

Public Involvement Manuals
EPA Programs and Regional Tools
Other Public Involvement Tools
International Tools
Other Federal Agencies
Public Involvement Techniques

Public Involvement Manuals

Better Decisions through Consultation and Collaboration (PDF 141 pp, 2.9MB, About PDF ) or Table of Contents. This manual was designed to help EPA staff and managers who develop regulations, policies, programs and cross media or cross geographic initiatives to improve agency practices for engaging the public through a guide to best practices for consultation and collaboration. The manual explains how to: (1) chose the appropriate level of public consultation or collaboration processes; (2) design those consultation or collaboration processes; (3) implement the activities; (4) incorporate the information gained into decision making; (5) incorporate lessons learned from the consultation or collaboration processes into the next processes conducted.

RCRA Public Participation Manual (1996)
This document is a "user's manual." It explains how public participation works in the RCRA permitting process (including corrective action), and how citizens, regulators, and industry can cooperate to make it work better. It provides detailed descriptions for dozens of public participation techniques -- required and optional, formal and informal. It also contains a wide variety of resources such as EPA policy memoranda, lists of contacts, fact sheets, and examples of public notices and press releases.

Stakeholder Involvement & Public Participation at the U.S. EPA: Lessons Learned, Barriers, and Innovative Approaches (PDF 150K About PDF) (January 2001)
This report is based upon a review of over thirty formal evaluations and informal summaries from across EPA that describe and/or evaluate Agency stakeholder involvement and public participation activities.

The Constructive Engagement Resource Guide: Practical Advice for Dialogue Among Facilities, Workers, Communities and Regulators (PDF 1.12M About PDF )
assists potential participants and stakeholders make informed decisions about whether to get involved in a negotiated process and how best to go about it.
Introduction to the Constructive Engagement Resource Guide (PDF 34K About PDF)

Sourcebook on Negotiated Rulemaking, Administrative Conference of the US, 1995, authors/editors David Pritzker and Deborah Dalton, 800 pages, is a comprehensive resource to "reg negs." This document is not available on the Internet, but can be accessed by contacting dalton.deborah@epa.gov.

The purpose of the Model Plan for Public Participation [Spanish translation] (PDF About PDF) is to provide a framework for EPA and other agencies to ensure that decisions affecting human health and the environment embrace environmental justice, ensuring the effective and meaningful involvement of all affected communities or interested parties. The Model Plan is based on two guiding principles and four critical elements. Included in the document are the Core Values for the Practice of Public Participation developed by Intetact: The Journal of Public Participation and the Environmental Justice Public Participation Checklist developed by the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice. The Model Plan was developed in 1994, by the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), a federal advisory committee to EPA.

The Report of the Common Sense Initiative's (CSI) Stakeholder Involvement Workgroup (PDF 392K About PDF) contains an annotated list of stakeholder involvement guides and manuals beginning on page 62 (Appendix E).

Public Involvement In Environmental Permits: A Reference Guide provides a resource for state program staff to enhance their own public participation efforts. The Reference Guide can also be used by the public as a resource to learn about permits and their opportunities to engage in the process. Drafting the Reference Guide was an agency- wide initiative. The agency also consulted with key partners, including the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and the Environmental Council of States.

Two stakeholder meetings, in the District of Columbia and Houston, Texas, produced comments from a variety of interests, including: environmental and community groups; state associations; national associations; state and regional regulators, and industry. The Reference Guide summarizes the major permitting programs under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. It also gives an overview of the core requirements for public involvement activities in these permitting programs. The Reference Guide then provides best practices and a model plan for implementing effective public participation activities under these programs, and provides a compendium of additional resources and contacts to use in implementation.

The Proof is in the Permit: How to Make Sure a Facility in Your Community Gets an Effective Title V Air Pollution Permit was developed for members of the public (under an EPA grant) by New York Public Interest Research Group and Earth Day Coalition. It is a resource for people who want to learn when and how they can participate in the development of operating permits for major stationary sources of air pollution (title V permits). It provides information on important deadlines in the permitting process, what information should be gathered before the public comment period on a draft permit, common problems to look for in draft permits, and tips for reviewing draft permits. It also has chapters on gaining access to government documents, environmental justice, and citizen enforcement of the Clean Air Act.

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EPA Programs and Regional Tools

EPA's Legal Framework Supports Collaboration - This August 2007 document demonstrates that EPA's enabling statutes and cross-agency laws provide a strong framework for collaborative approaches with partners, stakeholders and the public to protect human health and the environment.

Community-Based Environmental Protection (CBEP) (PDF About PDF) – Integrates environmental management with human needs, considers long-term ecosystem health and highlights the positive correlations between economic prosperity and environmental well-being.

Office of Children's Health Protection‘s goal is to make the protection of childrens' health a fundamental goal of public health and environmental protection in the United States.

EPA Voluntary Programs Focuses on programs involving small and large businesses, citizens, universities and trade organizations focusing on pollution prevention.

FACA Guidelines (PDF 14K About PDF) These guidelines will help readers understand how the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) affects public involvement and collaboration work across EPA; provides case study examples.

Indian Tribal Governments and Executive Order 13084 – Explains the unique legal relationship with Indian tribal governments and the commitment of federal agencies for consultation with these governments.

Office of Air and Radiation Partners – Federal, state and local agencies working together as partners with common goals of attaining and preserving clean air in the United States.

Regional Brownfields – Contains materials which describe regional activities under EPA's Brownfields Initiative to redevelop urban industrial lands.

Stakeholder Guide for Project XL Sponsors Describes the processes, roles and responsibilities for public and private sponsors of Project XL projects.

Superfund Community Involvement Provides an overview of the Superfund community involvement program mandated under the Comprehensive Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)

The Superfund Community Involvement Toolkit is a comprehensive and practical tool for promoting successful community participation in the Superfund process. The Toolkit site links to 46 tools, each of which describes activities that Superfund Site Teams have used successfully or provides information on available resources.

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Other Public Involvement Tools

How-to brochures on Public Involvement - (10) on how to do effective public involvement

Public Involvement Feedback Questionnaires - Specific survey templates help you determine the effectiveness of your public involvement activities

Tools and Services fact sheet lists EPA tool kits, resource materials, databases, regularly sponsored conferences and trainings that support public involvement and collaborative problem solving. (PDF 71K About PDF)

Seven Cardinal Rules of Risk Communication is a brochure that outlines the critical things to consider when communicating risk to the public. (PDF 1.47M About PDF)

EPA's Public Involvement Policy provides guidance to EPA staff on effective and reasonable means to involve the public in EPA's regulatory and program implementation decisions. The core element of the Policy is the recommended seven basic steps for effective public involvement: plan and budget, identify those to involve, consider providing assistance, provide information, conduct involvement, review and use input and provide feedback to the public, and evaluate involvement.

Framework for Implementing EPA's Public Involvement Policy presents a series of tasks to help staff and managers with information sharing, training and evaluation tools, thus enhancing public involvement activities and processes.

Engaging the American People (PDF 238K About PDF): A Review of EPA's Public Participation Policy and Regulations with Recommendations for Action. This report is the product of a cross-program EPA Workgroup that evaluated existing public participation practices and policies and provided recommendations. One major recommendation was to revise the 1981 Public Involvement Policy. The document contains an appendix (PDF 365KAbout PDF) on public involvement requirements in agency programs.

Evaluation Resources Toolbox for Stakeholder Involvement – This Toolbox provides summaries for all the references found in Stakeholder Involvement & Public Participation at the U.S. EPA: Lessons Learned, Barriers, and Innovative Approaches (PDF 150K About PDF) plus more recent work, sorted by topic and in alphabetical order.

Community Culture and the Environment: A Guide to Understanding a Sense of Place is a flexible toolbox for understanding the social dynamics involved in community-based efforts. Order EPA Publication No. EPA 842-B-01-003 from the National Center for Environmental Publications and Information at [https://www.epa.gov/ncepihom/ordering.htm] Download or view https://www.epa.gov/care/library/community_culture.pdf [this file is over 10 megabytes About PDF]

Towards an Environmental Justice Collaborative Model: Evaluation Report and Case Studies
Evaluation Report (January 2003) This document describes specific findings about the value of using partnerships to address environmental justice issues based upon a cross-case analysis of six Interagency Working Group national demonstration projects. The evaluation describes (1) project process, activities and outcomes; (2) key factors influencing project success and progress; 3) organizational styles, policies and procedures influencing project success and progress; (4) value of partnering to address environmental justice issues; and (5) value of federal agency involvement in partnership efforts. In addition, several core findings and recommendations are provided. The second volume contains Six Case Studies (January 2003).

Environmental Justice, Urban Revitalization, and Brownfields: The Search for Authentic Signs of Hope (PDF) (85 pp, 325K)
is the July 1996 report of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council from its Waste and Facility Siting Subcommittee. The report documents and analyzes the findings from public dialogues held in five cities in 1995 and provides far-reaching recommendations.

Fact Sheet on Negotiated Rulemaking/Regulatory Negotiation explains the process and advantages of Regulatory Negotiations and includes EPA contacts for more information. For more information on regulatory negotiations and policy dialogues, please contact EPA's Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center.

Social Aspects of Siting RCRA Hazardous Waste Facilities (PDF 7.19M About PDF), April 2000, was developed for industry and state and local government use to heighten their awareness of quality of life concerns faced by communities who live near RCRA hazardous waste management facilities. The document offers examples of concerns raised by nearby environmental justice communities. The document also shares experiences and creative ways that have been developed to work effectively with communities, and encourages businesses and government agencies to address community concerns early, collaboratively and compassionately.

The purpose of the Guide on Consultation and Collaboration with Indian Tribal Governments and the Public Participation of Indigenous Groups and Tribal Citizens (PDF 1.17M About PDF) is to enhance the effectiveness of consultation and collaboration between federal government agencies and American Indian and Alaska Native governments. The document is also intended to improve the opportunities for tribal communities and tribal members to have meaningful involvement in the public participation processes. The document contains four chapters: 1) Why Consultation with Tribes is Important, 2) What Consultation Means, 3) Methods for Effective Consultation, and 4) Public Participation in Indian Country. The Indigenous Peoples Subcommittee of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, a federal advisory committee to the EPA, developed this guide.

EPA Resources for Non-Profit Organizations is a complilation of resources available to municipalities and community groups to assist them in participating in stakeholder involvement activities.

EPA Federal Register is available to search for rulemakings. A Listing of EPA Dockets Exit EPA Disclaimer includes federal register notices, rules and supporting documents as well as comments received.

Part 25 Regulations (PDF 38K About PDF) - Promulgated in 1979, these regulations provide the basic requirements and recommendations for public participation in programs under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), and the Clean Water Act (CWA).

They also form the foundations that EPA program offices use to implement programs under other statutes. The regulations specify the public participation objectives that EPA, state and local, interstate, and tribal agencies should achieve in carrying out activities covered by the regulations. The regulations cover procedures that the Agency (or state, tribe, etc.) should or must follow, including matters associated with information, notification, consultation responsibilities, public hearings, public meetings, advisory committees, responsiveness summaries, permit enforcement, rulemakings, and work elements in financial assistance agreements.

Resource Guide: Resolving Environmental Conflicts in Communities (PDF 344 K About PDF) describes the alternative and appropriate dispute resolution approaches that EPA is using and provides information and contacts to help community members decide if non-adversarial conflict resolution is a good choice for dealing with environmental concerns or disputes. It provides an introduction to various forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), provides contact names and addresses for EPA employees nationwide who can answer questions about issues that may be resolved by ADR, and describes examples where an alternative approach helped to address community environmental concerns. For more information, contact EPA's Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center.

"Libraries - Community Resource for Environmental Information?" Exit EPA disclaimer was an Internet-based dialogue held September 18-19, 2000, to explore public access to environmental information through libraries with special emphasis on electronic information and how to improve its scope and utility. The event was structured around an online panel of experts including librarians, environmental organizations, government officials, community activists and EPA.

Public Involvement in EPA Decisions Exit EPA disclaimer -- A national Internet-based dialogue convened by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and hosted under contract by Information Renaissance. From July 10 - July 20, 2001 EPA convened a public discussion on improving public involvement in EPA decision-making. The dialogue was based on the EPA's newly drafted Public Involvement Policy. Interested citizens, representatives of industry, environmental groups, small businesses, states, local governments, tribes, and other groups examined the draft policy and shared thoughts and concerns on how EPA should implement it.

International Tools

The Aarhus Clearinghouse for Environmental Democracy Exit EPA disclaimer serves to collect, disseminate, and exchange information on laws and practices relevant to the rights of:

Making a Difference Exit EPA disclaimer This guide to evaluating public participation is intended to help those involved in planning, organizing or funding these activities to understand the different factors involved in creating effective public participation. It may help planners set and measure attainable objectives, evaluate impact, and identify lessons for future practice.

Better Together: improving consultation with the third sector (PDF) Exit EPA disclaimer [voluntary And community organizations] was designed to help government staff understand the third sector and guide them towards a successful and mutually beneficial way of engaging with such organizations in policy making. The document contains a research report and a practical handbook., with the research giving context for the handbook's guidance.

The True Costs of Public Participation (PDF) Exit EPA disclaimer This document reports research attempting preliminary assessment of what participation can achieve, what it costs,what its risks and limitations are and describing existing economic assessment [cost/benefit]methods and lessons learned from their use.

Deliberative Public Engagement: Nine Principles (PDF) Exit EPA disclaimer The aim of this document is to encourage and support good quality deliberative public engagement activities.

Teleparticipation Exit EPA disclaimer The Teleparticipation project explores how best to combine the reach of mass media and voting techniques with the deeper engagement experience of the deliberative event.

Democratic Technologies Exit EPA disclaimer This report documents the progress of six projects that have sought to challenge the way that science and technology is governed and invent new ways to democratize the development of new technologies by engaging the public in discussions about the governance and development of nanotechnologies.

Engage for Change: The Role of Public Engagement in Climate Change Policy (PDF) Exit EPA disclaimer The British Government has stated its determination that citizens should contribute to policy making within all levels of government. This report lays out what the ramifications of this relationship could be on the capacity of the Government to tackle climate change.

People and Participation (PDF) Exit EPA disclaimer The starting point of this publication is that deepening and strengthening democracy depends on success in learning lessons about why some kinds of participation lead to better and more legitimate decisions, while others do not.

Everybody Needs Good Neighbours (PDF) Exit EPA disclaimer This report presents the findings from a study into the relationship between public participation, community cohesion and empowerment.

The joint Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development/Nuclear Energy Agency [France] Forum on Stakeholder Confidence (FSC) Exit EPA disclaimer web site provides access to about 30 publicly available reports of the activities of the Forum,. Many of them relate to sharing of experience in addressing societal dimensions of radioactive waste management
and exploring means to ensure an effective public dialogue with a view to strengthening confidence in the decision-making processes. Several flyers on the site explaining the work and findings of FSC in plain language may be useful.

Stepwise Approach to Decision Making for Long-Term Radioactive Waste Management (2004) (PDF) Exit EPA disclaimer Experience, Issues and Guiding Principles. This review of stepwise decision making for long-term RWM pinpoints its current status, highlights its societal dimension and identifies implementation issues from both the point of view of social research and RWM practitioners. There is convergence between these two perspectives, and general guiding principles and action goals are proposed as a basis for further discussion and development of the stepwise decision-making concept.

Towards Waste Management Facilities that Become a Durable and Attractive Part of the Fabric of Local Community - Relevant Design Features (PDF) Exit EPA disclaimer

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Other Federal Agencies and Stakeholder Involvement

These are direct links to other Federal agency websites where stakeholder involvement, public participation, consensus-building or other facilitated processes are highlighted.

U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Natural Resource Conservation Service Social Science Team publications page provides links to Tech Notes on many relevant topics, including focus groups, dispute resolution, partnerships, public meetings, and much more. Technotes, brief summaries of effective practices in community and economic development, as well as longer publications are linked from this page.

USDA Rural Development describes the value of a participatory community in Community Participation: How People Power Brings Sustainable Benefits to Communities (PDF). Exit EPA disclaimerThis report and manual offers case studies as well as specific suggestions on how to encourage citizen participation in your local community.

Building and Maintaining a Partnership (PDF 48K About PDF) Exit EPA disclaimer explains what partnerships are, why they are needed, and how to maintain them.

The USDA Forest Service has developed web pages that provide a wealth of information on collaboration and partnerships. Though it is very specific to the Forest Service, the training web page may also be helpful for those seeking to enhance collaboration and partnering knowledge, skills and behaviors.
Tools and resources (http://www.partnershipresourcecenter.org/resources/tools/index.php)
Partnership Readiness Assessment Tool (http://www.partnershipresourcecenter.org/resources/tools/documents/partnership_capacity_assessment_tool.doc) Training (http://www.partnershipresourcecenter.org/resources/training/collaborative-training/collaborative-training-modules-details.php#d101)

Department of Energy

How to Design a Public Participation Program (PDF 74 K, 37 pages) – This guide was prepared in 1999 to help people who plan public participation programs to design processes and activities that will fit their unique circumstances. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to public participation. There are, however, certain issues that arise in designing any public participation program. This guide provides a systematic way of addressing these issues.

Department of Interior

Bureau of Reclamation Public Involvement Manual (PDF) Exit EPA disclaimer provides a general introduction to public involvement and goes on to serve as a practitioner's guide, including information on general approaches and strategies, setting up and running a public involvement program or project, and evaluation. [published in 2001]

National Park Service (NPS) Civic Engagement Exit EPA disclaimer

U.S. Geological Survey's Midcontinent Ecological Science Center created Rules for Success in Environmental Negotiation Exit EPA disclaimer , which presents ten rules to plan for negotiations and to diagnose ongoing negotiations.

Department of Transportation

The Federal Highway Administration developed the Public Involvement/Public Participation Transportation Planning Guide Exit EPA disclaimer to briefly review key issues in public involvement/public participation, summarize key requirements, and highlight a variety of notable practices, tools and techniques, particularly in the transportation planning process.

Federal Highway Administration/Federal Transit Administration's Public Involvement Techniques for Transportation Decision Making Exit EPA disclaimer covers: informing people, involving people, getting feedback, and using special techniques to enhance participation.

Food and Drug Administration

The Food and Drug Administration's Guidance for FDA Staff, The Leveraging Handbook, (PDF 55 pages, 142K) is a compendium of tools and information developed to support staff and managers who may be involved in related projects and their development. For FDA, leveraging is partnerships, cooperative agreements or any similar arrangements entered into with an external organization to further mutual goals and protect public health.

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Public Involvement Techniques

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