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RCRA Public Participation Tools and Resources

The RCRA Public Participation Toolkit is an online resource guide that presents a broad range of activities that RCRA site teams, community involvement staff, permitting agencies, public interest groups, community leaders, and facility owners/operators can use to design and promote public participation. The toolkit was designed to help users identify opportunities and methods for engagement throughout the RCRA public participation process. The variety of activities in the toolkit should fit any situation: from the formal regulatory process that EPA follows, to community-based discussion of RCRA issues, to events held by the facility owner or operator.

Some of the tools in this toolkit (for instance, public hearings) will be more appropriately led by a permitting agency; however, all stakeholders can learn more about the different kinds of activities by reviewing the tools. Moreover, EPA would like to emphasize that this list is not exhaustive. You should consult with other stakeholders to determine if these or any other public participation activities will best suit your needs.

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Where do I start?

The 2016 edition of the RCRA Public Participation Manual emphasizes public participation as a two-way dialogue. Public participation involves both getting information to stakeholders and getting feedback from them in the form of ideas, issues, and concerns. The toolkit can help you think through questions as part of the process, such as: What do you want to accomplish? What is the appropriate level of public participation? What tools can be used? Which stakeholders should be your target audience?

Public participation may seem like an intimidating exercise, but addressing community concerns early and often can avoid misunderstanding and enable cooperation. The five key steps for planning the public participation process will help effectively customize successful public participation.

  1. Organize for participation
  2. Identify and get to know your stakeholders
  3. Pick an appropriate level of public participation
  4. Integrate public participation in the decision process
  5. Match public participation tools to objectives throughout the process

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How to use the toolkit

Each tool describes an activity or resource that a RCRA site team, or other user (e.g. state agency, tribe, community group, facility owner/operator) may use to involve and inform the community. It also explains how the activity or resource can be used. Each tool begins with a brief overview and description of why the activity is important (including whether it is required by law or regulation). The tool then moves into implementation and discussion about how and when that activity or resource can be used in the RCRA process. In many cases, the tools will reference related tools, and conclude with 'Tips' and 'Attachments'.

This page contains an overview of the public participation tools and activities that can be used to actively engage the public for multiple situations and issues. These methods can be adapted, combined, or reinvented as needed to address the specific needs of the community. Each tool can be used in conjunction with the RCRA Public Participation Manual that provides guidance to EPA staff on how EPA typically plans and implements public participation activities at RCRA sites.

The tools have been organized alphabetically and categorized to reflect their role in RCRA public participation.

  • The first group includes techniques and practices required by the RCRA Expanded Public Participation rule.
  • The second group encompassess techniques that disseminate information.
  • The third group represents tools to assist in gathering information.

    Note that some of the activities may be useful for more than one purpose, for instance, informal meetings are useful both for disseminating and gathering information.

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RCRA Public Participation Toolkit

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Additional Resources

For additional resources on public participation, please visit the following web pages.

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