Chapter 2: Public Participation in Government

Citizen input is essential for government decisions that concern the health and safety of communities.

We as citizens have a responsibility to be informed and aware of what goes on in our communities. If we are informed, we can make decisions that help us to be safer and give us the ability to participate in decisions that affect our environment. Citizens can be involved in environmental decision-making in several ways. Be aware of public notices, hearings, and meetings, and all important material available for public review. Much of the information used to make decisions in all levels of government is available for public review and/or becomes public record. Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the federal government is required to allow any person review of governmental documents without explanation of the reason for the request. This is of course subject to national security limitations. Under Louisiana law, the Louisiana Public Records Act (LPRA) is similar to FOIA.

2.1 Public Participation

2.2 Permit Notices

2.3 Preparing Public Comments

2.4 The Permit Process

2.5 Reporting Environmental Incidents

Key Points 

  • Under the Freedom of Information Act citizens are allowed to review most government documents without having to provide a reason or justification for the request.
  • The two most common types of public participation methods are speaking at public hearings and providing written comments to the agency employees.
  • Effective commenting includes being clear, concise, and providing reasons for your concerns.
  • The public plays an important role in assisting agencies in addressing environmental incidents by documenting and reporting them.

Be Involved

  • Look for public notices, announcements of hearings and meetings, and all important material available for public review.
  • Download the Public Affairs Research Council Citizen’s Rights printable card at: http://www.parlouisiana.com/citizensrightscard.cfm
  • Request public notices to be emailed or mailed to you from state agencies.
  • Submit public comments when applicable for projects in your community.
  • Document and report environmental incidents to the appropriate agencies.

Chapter References