40 CFR 25.3 - Policy and objectives.
(a) EPA, State, interstate, and substate agencies carrying out activities described in § 25.2(a) shall provide for, encourage, and assist the participation of the public. The term, “the public” in the broadest sense means the people as a whole, the general populace. There are a number of identifiable “segments of the public” which may have a particular interest in a given program or decision. Interested and affected segments of the public may be affected directly by a decision, either beneficially or adversely; they may be affected indirectly; or they may have some other concern about the decision. In addition to private citizens, the public may include, among others, representatives of consumer, environmental, and minority associations; trade, industrial, agricultural, and labor organizations; public health, scientific, and professional societies; civic associations; public officials; and governmental and educational associations.
(b) Public participation is that part of the decision-making process through which responsible officials become aware of public attitudes by providing ample opportunity for interested and affected parties to communicate their views. Public participation includes providing access to the decision-making process, seeking input from and conducting dialogue with the public, assimilating public viewpoints and preferences, and demonstrating that those viewpoints and preferences have been considered by the decision-making official. Disagreement on significant issues is to be expected among government agencies and the diverse groups interested in and affected by public policy decisions. Public agencies should encourage full presentation of issues at an early stage so that they can be resolved and timely decisions can be made. In the course of this process, responsible officials should make special efforts to encourage and assist participation by citizens representing themselves and by others whose resources and access to decision-making may be relatively limited.
(c) The following are the objectives of EPA, State, interstate, and substate agencies in carrying out activities covered by this part:
(1) To assure that the public has the opportunity to understand official programs and proposed actions, and that the government fully considers the public's concerns;
(2) To assure that the government does not make any significant decision on any activity covered by this part without consulting interested and affected segments of the public;
(3) To assure that government action is as responsive as possible to public concerns;
(4) To encourage public involvement in implementing environmental laws;
(5) To keep the public informed about significant issues and proposed project or program changes as they arise;
(6) To foster a spirit of openness and mutual trust among EPA, States, substate agencies and the public; and
(7) To use all feasible means to create opportunities for public participation, and to stimulate and support participation.