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Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT AND DECISION MAKING Panel on Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making Thomas Dietz and Paul C. Stern, Editors Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
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Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This project was supported by the Environmental Protection Agency, with contributions from the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Energy, Grant No. X-82873001, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Grant No. PNW 07-DG-1123416976-342. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Public participation in environmental assessment and decision making / Panel on Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making ; Thomas Dietz and Paul C. Stern, editors ; Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 978-0-309-12398-3 (pbk.) — ISBN 978-0-309-12399-0 (pdf) 1. Environmental impact analysis—Citizen participation—Evaluation. 2. Environmental policy—Decision making—Citizen participation—Evaluation. 3. Environmental policy—United States—Decision making. 4. Administrative agencies—United States—Decision making. 5. Administrative procedure—United States—Citizen participation. 6. Environmental protection—United States—Citizen participation. I. Dietz, Thomas. II. Stern, Paul C., 1944- III. National Research Council (U.S.). Panel on Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making. IV. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change. TD194.6.P83 2008 363.7’0525—dc22 2008038571 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2008 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2008). Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making. Panel on Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making, Thomas Dietz and Paul C. Stern, eds. Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
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Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making PANEL ON PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT AND DECISION MAKING THOMAS DIETZ (Chair), Environmental Science and Policy Program, Michigan State University GAIL BINGHAM, Resolve, Washington, DC CARON CHESS, Department of Human Ecology, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University MICHAEL L. DEKAY, Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University JEANNE M. FOX, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, Newark STEVEN C. LEWIS, Integrative Policy & Science, Inc., Washington, New Jersey GREGORY B. MARKUS, Center for Political Studies, University of Michigan D. WARNER NORTH, NorthWorks, Inc., Belmont, California ORTWIN RENN, Institute of Management and Technology, University of Stuttgart, Germany MARGARET A. SHANNON, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont ELAINE VAUGHAN, School of Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine THOMAS J. WILBANKS, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee PAUL C. STERN, Study Director JENNIFER BREWER, Staff Officer SETH TULER, Consultant LINDA DEPUGH, Administrative Assistant
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Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making COMMITTEE ON THE HUMAN DIMENSIONS OF GLOBAL CHANGE THOMAS J. WILBANKS (Chair), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee RICHARD N. ANDREWS, Department of Public Policy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill ROBERT CORELL, H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, Washington, DC ROGER E. KASPERSON, George Perkins Marsh Institute, Clark University ANN KINZIG, Department of Biology, Arizona State University, Tempe TIMOTHY MCDANIELS, Eco-Risk Unit, University of British Columbia, Vancouver LINDA O. MEARNS, Environmental and Societal Impacts Group, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado EDWARD MILES, School of Marine Affairs, University of Washington, Seattle ALEXANDER PFAFF, Public Policy Department, Duke University EUGENE ROSA, Natural Resource and Environmental Policy, Washington State University, Pullman CYNTHIA E. ROSENZWEIG, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York GARY W. YOHE, Department of Economics, Wesleyan University ORAN R. YOUNG (ex officio), International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change Scientific Committee; Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara PAUL C. STERN, Study Director JENNIFER F. BREWER, Staff Officer SETH TULER, Consultant LINDA DEPUGH, Administrative Assistant
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Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making Preface This report began with two simple ideas. One was that the environmental problems of the 21st century can be effectively addressed only by processes that link sound scientific analysis with effective public deliberation. The second was that analysis and deliberation in environmental assessment and decision making can be improved by careful examination of scientific evidence. Discussions about public participation have become especially intense in the last half century. Novel methods of public engagement have emerged to complement more venerable modes of participation, such as voting, lobbying, and protesting. In response to the new practices, a growing literature has offered theory to define and justify public participation, has proposed tools and strategies for participation, and has begun to examine what happens in participation processes. But this literature, while substantial in size and including much work of high quality, has not been cumulative. It provides no overall assessment of whether or not, in general, public participation enhances environmental assessments and decisions; those designing participation processes have trouble extracting lessons from it; and it does not reflect a consensus about the key questions requiring further research. This study attempts to address what have been missing: to provide an overall assessment of the merits and failings of participation, to offer guidance to practitioners, and to identify directions for further research. Participation research and practice is so dynamic that our analysis is somewhat dated even as it is published, yet I believe we have made some progress in synthesizing across a diverse literature. We have found that participation can be an invaluable part of environmental assessment and decision mak-
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Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making ing. Although there are no simple “best practices” that provide universal guidance in designing participation, there are principles and “best processes” that can enhance the effectiveness of participation. We have taken a few steps toward structuring the research literature. Our hope is that this report will prove useful for those who are assessing participation policy and practices, those who design and conduct participation, and those who study participation. We know it is not the final word, but we believe it lends some coherence to future conversations and provides a starting point for further analysis. As one would expect of a work on participation, many have participated in creating the final product. It is, first and foremost, the work of the panel and Paul Stern, the study director. The study draws together diverse strands of literature and bridges across diverse disciplines and substantive domains. In doing so, the panel and Paul have worked very hard and exhibited great patience and a wonderful openness to synthesis. We conducted two scoping workshops before the study began and one workshop midstream in the study. The participants in those workshops—scholars, practitioners, and nonspecialists—had a profound influence in shaping the study. We thank first the participants in our July 2001 workshop: Bonnie Bailey, Water Environment Research Foundation; Thomas C. Beierle, Resources for the Future; Mohandas Bhat, U.S. Department of Energy; Steve Blackwell, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; Judith Bradbury, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Frank Clearfield, National Resource Conservation Services’ Social Sciences Institute; Martha Crosland, U.S. Department of Energy; Katherine Dawes, Office of Environmental Policy Innovation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Michael Donnelly, Radiation Studies Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; John Hogan, Office of Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Debora Martin, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Michael Sage, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Michael Slimak, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Peter Smith, U.S. Department of Agriculture; and Elizabeth White, U.S. Department of Energy; and Susan Wiltshire, JK Research Associates. We also thank the participants in our December 2001 workshop: Laurel Ames, Sierra Nevada Alliance; John Applegate, University of Indiana; L. Katherine Baril, Washington State University; Thomas C. Beierle, Resources for the Future; Sue Briggum, WMX Waste Management; Fred Butterfield, U.S. Department of Energy; Susan Carillo, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Martha Crosland, U.S. Department of Energy, Samantha Dixon, City of Westminister, Colorado; Paul Gagliardo, Metropolitan Wastewater Public Works, City of San Diego, California; Troy Hartley, RESOLVE, Washington, DC; Kenneth Jones, Green Mountain Institute for Environmental Democracy; Jeffrey Jordan, City of South Portland,
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Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making Maine; Marshall Kreuter, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Mark Lubell, Florida State University; Eric Marsh, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Tom Marshall, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center; Robert O’Connor, National Science Foundation; Dennis Ojima, Colorado State University; Kathryn Papp, National Council for Science and the Environment; Karen Patterson, Tetra Tech NUS; Trisha Pritkin, Hanford Downwinders; Beth Raps, independent consultant; Douglas Sarno, The Perspectives Group, Inc.; Michael Slimak, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; James Smith, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Bruce Stedman, RESOLVE, Washington, DC; Vicky Sturtevant, Southern Oregon University; Patrice Sutton, Western States Legal Foundation; Merv Tano, Council of Energy Resource Tribes; John Till, Risk (Radiation) Assessment Corporation; William Toffey, Philadelphia Water Department; Bruce Tonn, University of Tennessee; and Chris Wiant, Caring for Colorado Foundation. Our mid-study workshop was held in February 2005, and we thank the participants: Beth Anderson, National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences; Mitchell Baer, U.S. Department of Energy; Bonnie Bailey, Water Environment Research Foundation; Anjuli Bamzai, U.S. Department of Energy; Patricia Bonner, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Nina Burkardt, U.S. Geological Survey Fort Collins Science Center; Francis (Chip) Cameron, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Joe Carbone, U.S.D.A. Forest Service; David Cleaves, U.S.D.A. Forest Service; Jim Creighton, Creighton & Creighton; Jeremiah Davis, The George Washington University; Sandra Dawson, Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Alvaro DeCarvalho, Water Environment Research Federation; David Emmerson, U.S. Department of Interior; Bruce Engelbert, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Community Involvement and Outreach; Tim Fields, Tetra Tech EM, Inc.; Baruch Fischhoff, Carnegie Mellon University; Amy Fitzgerald, City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Victoria Friedensen, National Aeronautics and Spacec Administration; Elena Gonzalez, U.S. Department of the Interior; Tanya Heikkila, Columbia University; Kasha Helget, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Elizabeth Howze, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; Marcia Keenan, Office of Policy, National Park Service; Jeremy Kranowitz, The Keystone Center; Linda Lampl, Lampl Herbert Consultants; Laura Langbein, American University; Charles Lee, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Onora Lien, Center for Biosecurity of UPMC; Mark Lubell, University of California, Davis; Tanya Maslak, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Katherine McComas, Cornell University; Jennifer Nuzzo, Center for Biosecurity, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Robert O’Connor, National Science Foundation; Lola Olabode, Water Environment Research Foundation; Suaquita (Kita) Perry,
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Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine Health Risk Communication Program; David Rejeski, Foresight and Governance Project, Woodrow Wilson Center International Center for Scholars; Anca Romantan, University of Pennsylvania; Adam Scheffler, Chicago, IL; Frances Seymour, World Resources Institute; Michael Slimak, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Roxanne Smith, U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine Health Risk Communication Program; Jasmine Tanguay, CLF Ventures, Inc.; and Thomas Webler, Social and Environmental Research Institute. We also commissioned several papers that were critical to the report by providing detailed analyses of public participation in what we call “families” of cases—cases that were similar in the environmental issues addressed and in the institutional contexts in which they were carried out. We thank the authors for their work, without which we could not have come as far as we did: Evaluating Public Participation in Environmental Decisions; Judith Bradbury, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Negotiated and Conventional Rulemaking at EPA: A Comparative Case Analysis; Laura Langbein, American University Watershed Partnerships: Evaluating a Collaborative Form of Public Participations; Mark Lubell, University of California, Davis, and William D. Leach, California State University, Sacramento Stakeholder Involvement in the First U.S. National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change: An Evaluation, Finally; Susanne C. Moser, National Center for Atmospheric Research Finally, the sponsors of the study at the Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy, and, especially, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have shown a deep commitment to effective public engagement by supporting this study at a time of budget constraints and shifting priorities. We believe that our study has had benefits beyond this volume and that it will continue to do so. For example, it established new communication links between the National Research Council and organizations involved in addressing the practical challenges of environmental public participation. It provided educational opportunities for five Christine Mirzayan Fellows at the National Research Council during the course of the panel’s work: Rebecca Zarger, Rebecca Romsdahl, Loraine Lundquist, Rachael Shwom, and Hannah Brenkert-Smith. Their insights and engagement were of great value to the project. And we hope it will help promote the continuation of
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Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making the dialogue between theory and practice that was so helpful during the course of our study. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the National Research Council. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Richard N. Andrews, Department of Public Policy, University of North Carolina; Sue Briggum, Federal Public Affairs, WM Waste Management, Washington, DC; Archon Fung, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Jerome B. Gilbert, President’s Office, J. Gilbert, Inc., Orinda, CA; Robin Gregory, Senior Researcher, Decision Research, Canada; Kathy Halvorsen, Forest Resources and Environmental Science and Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI; Evan Ringquist, Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University; Douglas J. Sarno, The Perspectives Group, Inc., Alexandria, VA; Mark E. Warren, Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia; and Julia Wondolleck, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Lorraine M. McDonnell, Department of Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara, and Susan Hanson, School of Geography, Clark University. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. Nonetheless, we thank the reviewers and the review coordinator for diligent analysis that greatly improved the quality of the report. Thomas Dietz, Chair Panel on Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making
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Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making Contents Executive Summary 1 1 Introduction 7 Defining Public Participation, 11 Dimensions of Participation, 14 Objectives and Scope of the Study, 18 Sources of Knowledge, 21 How We Conducted the Study, 27 Guide to the Report, 29 Notes, 30 2 The Promise and Perils of Participation 33 Historical Development: Laws and Agency Practices, 36 Purposes of Public Participation, 43 Justifications for and Problems with Public Participation, 46 Pitfalls, 51 Criteria for Evaluation, 66 Conclusion, 73 Notes, 74 3 The Effects of Public Participation 75 Does Public Participation Improve Results?, 76 Associations Among Results: Can You Have It All?, 86
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Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making Conclusion, 91 Notes, 92 4 Public Participation Practice: Management Practices 95 Clarity of Purpose, 96 Agency Commitment, 99 Adequate Capacity and Resources, 101 Timeliness in Relation to Decisions, 103 A Focus on Implementation, 105 Commitment to Learning, 106 Conclusion, 109 5 Practice: Organizing Participation 111 Public Participation Formats and Practices, 111 Dimensions of Participatory Process, 115 Breadth, 118 Openness of Design, 122 Intensity, 126 Influence, 132 Conclusion, 135 Note, 135 6 Practice: Integrating Science 137 Integration, 138 Challenges of Integration, 140 Meeting the Challenges, 144 Conclusion, 152 Summary: The Practice of Participation, 154 7 Context: The Issue 157 Purpose of the Process: Assessment or Decision Making, 158 Nature of the Environmental Issue, 161 The Science, 167 Conclusions, 180 Notes, 182 8 Context: The People 187 Convening and Implementing Agencies, 187 Who Participates, 192 Adequacy of Representation, 193 Differing Perspectives, 202 Polarization, 205
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Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making Power Disparities, 207 Role of Representatives, 209 Trust, 210 Conclusions, 214 Notes, 216 9 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations 223 The Value of Public Participation, 226 Management, 227 Organizing the Process, 230 Integrating Science, 233 Implementation, 236 Needed Research, 238 Notes, 243 References 245 Appendix: Biographical Sketches of Panel Members and Staff 299
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