28 CFR 91.66 - Public participation.
Environmental impact documents are public documents and the public should be provided an opportunity to review and comment on them.
(a) Early project planning stages. During the early planning stages of a project, the grantee should make reasonable efforts to meet with the affected public and other interested parties in order to obtain their views and any concerns regarding the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project.
(b) Environmental assessment process -
(1) Newspaper notice. At a minimum, the grantee must provide public notice of the availability of the draft EA and draft Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for review and comment. The grantee must publish this notice in the non-legal section of at least two consecutive editions of the newspaper of general circulation in the affected community or area. The notice must:
(i) Explain how and where a copy of the assessment can be accessed or obtained for review;
(ii) Include a request for comments; and
(iii) Provide at least a thirty-day comment period that begins from the date of the last published notice.
(2) Post Office notice. If the project area is not served by a regularly published local or area-wide newspaper, the notice described in paragraph (b)(1) of this section must be prominently displayed at the local post office.
(3) Site notice. The grantee must send a copy of the notice to owners and occupants of properties that are nearby or directly affected by the proposed project. Additionally, the grantee must place or post the notice on the site of the proposed project.
(4) Distribution of the draft EA. At the same time that the grantee provides the public notice of the availability of the EA for review and comment, the grantee must mail a copy of the draft EA and FONSI to any individuals and groups that have expressed an interest in the planned project to either the grantee or OJP and also to appropriate local, state, and Federal agencies. OJP will advise the grantee of the identities of any parties who have directly requested project information from OJP.
(5) Public information meeting. A public information meeting is not required for each environmental assessment. Rather, OJP will decide if a public meeting would be helpful in those cases in which the public comments either reflect a serious misunderstanding of the proposed project and its potential environmental impacts or raise substantial questions or issues concerning the content of the draft EA. If OJP determines that a meeting is necessary, the grantee must schedule and hold a public meeting. An OJP representative will attend.
(c) EIS process -
(1) Scoping meeting. As one of the first steps in the preparation of a draft EIS, OJP and the grantee will sponsor a public meeting in the area(s) that would be affected by the proposed project and the alternative sites under consideration. This meeting is referred to as a scoping meeting and is intended to identify the proposed project's environmental impacts that are:
(i) Of most concern to the affected public and local, state, and federal agencies and
(ii) Of least concern to the affected public and agencies.
(2) Review and comment process for draft EIS. OJP's procedures require the grantee to obtain the public's comments on the draft EIS by:
(i) Publishing a notice of availability of the draft EIS in the newspaper(s) serving the area(s) that would be impacted by the proposed project and the alternatives sites;
(ii) Distributing copies of the draft EIS to all interested agencies, organizations, and individuals for their review and comment;
(iii) Holding near the site of the proposed project a public information meeting in order to obtain the comments of the attendees; and
(iv) Allowing, at a minimum, a forty-five day review and comment period for the draft EIS. Grantees should refer to OJP's Guidance Handbook for further information on how to conduct these public review and comment procedures.
(3) Distribution of final EIS. Any interested person or group can request a copy of the final EIS and will be provided a copy.