Public Input Enhances Environmental Decisions | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 35 | p. 37 | Concentrates
Issue Date: September 1, 2008

Public Input Enhances Environmental Decisions

Department: Government & Policy

Public participation can improve the quality of federal decisions on the environment, says a report from the National Research Council. Released in late August, the report says that involving the public can lead to a better environment and enhance the public's trust in federal regulators. NRC defines "public participation" as the engagement of individuals, groups, and the private sector to inform agencies making decisions that affect the environment. EPA, FDA, and the Departments of Agriculture and Energy asked NRC to conduct the study because public participation has supporters and detractors. NRC recommends that federal agencies incorporate public participation into their work "as a requisite of effective action, not merely a formal procedural requirement" to fulfill a duty mandated by a law. Regulators should commit to using input from the public to inform their actions, melding it with scientific analysis, the report adds. In addition, the report calls for NSF, in partnership with agencies that make environmental decisions, to fund social sciences research on public participation in government decisions.

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