Public participation involves actively seeking and responding to input from citizens and enabling meaningful involvement in decision-making.
Environmental management is the collective responsibility of individuals, communities, industries, businesses, organizations and institutions, governments, and countries. Increasingly, governments recognize the value and importance of participation by civil society in environmental management, and are responding to the public’s desire to be included in decision-making processes on matters that affect them. Public participation is viewed as integral to having an effective environmental management.
Citizens have greater access to information and are demanding to be more involved earlier in policy development processes. In many countries, data are available via the Internet and people can determine for themselves the sources of local pollution and use that information to influence governmental entities or the industry directly.
Educating the public and ensuring their participation in the environmental protection systems is a critical aspect of governmental responsibility. Air quality has such a tremendous impact on sensitive populations and they need to understand how they are affected, how they can minimize these impacts, and how they can influence decision makers for the benefit of all society.
|How do I involve the public in the air quality management system?|
U.S. EPA has information on public involvement that is intended to share information about public involvement activities across EPA and help users understand how different types of public involvement relate to EPA programs and how public input can be used in EPA decision-making processes. Important examples of how U.S. EPA provides environmental information to the public include:
- AIRNow Ozone and Particulate Matter Monitoring and Forecasting - the AIRNow site provides the public with easy access to national air quality information by offering daily air quality index (AQI) forecasts as well as real-time AQI conditions for over 300 cities across the U.S., and provides links to more detailed State and local air quality web sites. The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality that tells you how clean or polluted your outdoor air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air.
- Window to my Environment - this is a web-based tool that provides a wide range of federal, state, and local information about environmental conditions and features in an area of your choice within the U.S. The site includes interactive maps, statistical information and links to local resources.
- Envirofacts - Envirofacts offers a single point of access to select U.S. EPA environmental data. This web site provides access to several EPA databases to provide you with information about environmental activities that may affect air, water, and land anywhere in the United States. With Envirofacts, you can learn more about these environmental activities in your area or you can generate maps of environmental information.
The Public Participation Guide to Air Quality Decision-Making in California provides with the basic tools and information needed to understand and participate in the air pollution policy, planning, permitting, and regulatory decision-making processes in California.