Public Participation and Citizen ActionThe public plays an important role in the permitting process for both hazardous and municipal solid waste facilities. Facilities applying for a permit must involve the public in some aspects of the process. Businesses and the state or federal permitting agency also must make information available to the public. The public has opportunities to submit comments and request public hearings. Many avenues exist for people to learn about and participate in what is happening around them.
Cleaning up hazardous waste facilities, known as corrective action, is also of concern to citizens and local communities. Since spills from TSDFs can affect entire municipalities, RCRA guarantees that the public will have a role in the facility cleanup process. For example, the corrective action process gives the public access to facility inspection information, requires public notice of remediation proceedings, and allows the opportunity for public comment participation in the remedy selection process.
Public participation initiatives are also used to remedy the disproportionate effects of environmental pollution on particular groups, such as minority and low-income populations. For example, through efforts to ensure environmental justice, EPA is taking steps to incorporate public participation into decisions concerning the siting of hazardous waste facilities and the prioritization of corrective action cleanups.
- Guide for Industrial Waste Management - This voluntary guide is designed to assist facility managers, state and tribal environmental managers, and the public to evaluate and choose protective practices for managing industrial waste in new landfills, waste piles, surface impoundments, and land application units.
- Managing Hazardous Waste in Your Community - This series of fact sheets provides a brief history and summary of RCRA. It includes an overview of hazardous waste in your community, how RCRA works, what makes a waste hazardous, safe hazardous waste recycling, how you can make a difference in your community, and state hazardous waste contacts.
- RCRA Cleanup Reforms: Faster, Focused, More Flexible Cleanups (PDF) (4 pp, 28K, About PDF) | Text - This fact sheet describes RCRA cleanup reforms, a set of administrative reforms to the RCRA corrective action program. It explains why EPA is doing the RCRA cleanup reforms, addresses how the success of the reforms will be measured and how EPA will involve stakeholders in the reforms.
- RCRA Expanded Public Participation Rule (Brochure) | en Espaņol - This brochure describes EPA's expanded public participation rule to empower communities to become more actively involved in local hazardous waste management by involving the public earlier in the permitting process, providing more opportunities for public participation, expanding public access to information, and offering guidance on how facilities can improve public participation.
- RCRA Public Participation Manual | en Espaņol - This manual provides a practical "how-to" guide on additional activities that can be used to enhance public involvement and strengthen the partnerships among all stakeholders in the RCRA permitting process. Representatives from state agencies, industry, environmental groups, and environmental justice groups participated in the development of the manual in order to ensure its usefulness to all stakeholder groups.
- Sites for Our Solid Waste: A Guidebook for Effective Public Involvement (PDF) (5 pp, 505K, About PDF) - This book provides information for the public, public officials, and industry professionals on finding waste sites that are both technically sound and socially acceptable. It encourages public involvement.
- Social Aspects of Siting Hazardous Waste (PDF) (16 pp, 7.3MB, About PDF) | en Español (PDF) (16 pp, 917K, About PDF) - This booklet was developed for industries and for government agencies that interact with communities when hazardous waste facilities are sited. It offers examples of quality of life concerns raised by environmental justice communities when facilities are sited. In addition, it provides examples of experiences and creative mechanisms that have been developed in order to work effectively with communities and encourages businesses and government agencies to address community concerns early, collaboratively, and compassionately.
- Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) - This law establishes a citizen's right to obtain information about toxic and hazardous chemicals handled at facilities in the community. One such avenue is the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). Through this program, facilities across the country are required to report the quantities of 643 different toxic chemicals that are released into the environment each year.
- The Hazardous Waste Permitting Process: A Citizens Guide - The purpose of this guide is to provide a resource for state program staff to use in enhancing their own public participation efforts. In addition, it can be used by the public as a resource for learning about permits and their opportunities to engage in the process. The Reference Guide summarizes the major permitting programs under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. It also gives an overview of the core requirements for public involvement activities in these permitting programs.
- OSWER Community Engagement Initiative - The EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) Community Engagement Initiative (CEI) is designed to enhance OSWER and regional offices’ engagement with local communities and stakeholders (e.g., state and local governments, tribes, academia, private industry, other federal agencies, non-profit organizations) to help them meaningfully participate in government decisions on land cleanup, emergency preparedness and response, and the management of hazardous substances and waste.
- EPA's Public Involvement Site - This site shares information about public involvement activities across EPA and helps users understand how different types of public involvement relate to EPA programs and how public input can be used in EPA decision-making processes.