The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it has received roughly 130,000 public comments on the Proposed Determination it released last month. This is in addition to testimony from nearly 300 people received during recent public meetings in Alaska.
Thousands of comments are coming in through mass-media campaigns run by advocacy groups on both sides of the issue, a trend that EPA is seeing more frequently, especially with social media making it easier for groups to get the word out.
This approach is what pushed the number of comments on EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment to historic proportions, at more than 1 million.
But according to a public comment tip sheet at regulations.gov, many in the public mistakenly believe that their submitted form letter constitutes a “vote” regarding the issues that concern them:
“Although public support or opposition may help guide important public policies, agencies make determinations for a proposed action based on sound reasoning and scientific evidence, not a majority of votes. A single, well-supported comment may carry more weight than a thousand form letters.”
The convenience of supporting a position with the click of a button likely contributes to the popularity of the mass-media campaign.
However, a message that combines convenience with an individual message – either an addition
or other changes to a form letter – brings your own perspective to the comment. This could give your message greater weight in the overall conversation.
The public input period is open until 8 p.m. Alaska Time, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014.
Check out these resources for more information: