We’ve all been there. We thought we were doing our civic duty, participating in democracy by auto-filling our names and addresses on form letters sent out by our trusted NGOs, adding our voices in the public comment period on public lands, wildlife, or social justice issues. But does it do any good? Being engaged does matter, but we can do better. For that you need to know how public comments work.
“The NEPA public comment process requires the proponent agency to respond to the issues raised by public comments,” says Jeff Ruch, Pacific director at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). “One letter raising five issues will require the agency to respond to each of those issues. By contrast, if you have 100 comments raising the same issue, the agency needs to respond to that one issue only.”