Submitting Effective Public Comments
Public participation is an important component of the rule-making and permitting process and DENR wants to hear from you. Unfortunately, the public comments we receive are often too broad to be considered in the decision-making process. The following information is provided to assist the general public and other stakeholders in preparing and submitting effective public comments.
Steps to Take Before Submitting a Comment
- Read and understand the topic you are commenting on. Often the rule-making or permitting process is guided by specific legal and regulatory requirements. It is important to understand these requirements before submitting your comments.
- Ask questions. If you do not understand the process or have questions about what is being done, please contact DENR at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keys to Effective Public Comments
- Be specific. Focus your comments on specific aspects of the rule-making or permitting that you think should be changed. Simply expressing approval or disproval of an action is not an effective public comment.
- Point out unintended effects. It is impossible for policy makers to identify every possible outcome of an action. Identify unintended consequences that you feel have been overlooked.
- When possible, provide technical information. Sometimes individuals or groups can provide specific technical information that is outside of DENR's expertise. This type of information can refine the decision-making process and lead to better regulatory outcomes.
- Identify solutions, not just problems. Although it is helpful to explain why you do not like something or why you think it will not work, it is better to suggest specific changes to language or parameters to help address your concern.
- Include examples. Specific examples of how the proposed rule or permit would positively or negatively impact you can strengthen your comment.
Common Public Comment Mistakes / Misunderstandings
- A comment is not a vote. One specific, well-supported comment is often more informative and effective than hundreds of emails or form letters raising the same general issue. Although public support or opposition may help guide the decision, DENR makes final decisions based on the applicable regulations and scientific evidence rather than poplular opinion.
- Off-topic comments are not relevant. Comments that do not address the rule making or permitting decision being made will not be considered. In addition, comments addressing actions outside of DENR's regulatory authority are not relevant.
- Questions are not comments. DENR encourages the public to ask questions, but questions submitted as comments will not be considered. If you have questions, please ask them prior to submitting your comment.
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