Risk Communication in Community Participation: Comparing Regional Programs in South FloridaEPA Grant Number: R830843
Title: Risk Communication in Community Participation: Comparing Regional Programs in South Florida
Investigators: Light, Alfred R. , Espino, Maria Dolores
Institution: Saint Thomas University
EPA Project Officer: Carleton, James N
Project Period: November 1, 2003 through October 31, 2005
Project Amount: $192,029
RFA: Superfund Minority Institutions Program: Hazardous Substance Research (2002) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , Land and Waste Management , Safer Chemicals
This project compares the Environmental Protection Agency's CERCLA and the Army Corps of Engineers' Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) remedy- selection processes in order to assess the relative viability of various risk communication strategies for enhancing citizen involvement in and acceptance of public environmental decision-making in a large geographic area. The objectives of this project are: (1) to assess the level of citizen participation and involvement at various stages of the decision-making process under CERCLA and CERP; (2) to assess acceptance within various relevant affected communities, especially African-American, Hispanic, and Native American communities, regarding remedy selection; (3) to evaluate risk communication processes and strategies employed by governmental entities associated with these projects and related cost accounting methodologies used in feasibility studies; and (4) to develop recommendations regarding effective risk communication strategies and costs accounting for larger, diverse geographic areas.
An interdisciplinary team of social scientists will identify projects in South Florida that have and do not have region-wide implications and then, for selected projects in each category, examine decision-making documents and supporting materials, in order to measure the level and character of public participation (e.g., community relations plans, public comments, reports of public meetings). The team will characterize participating organizations and determine the availability and use of materials on which the agency relied in making its decisions. After completing preliminary reports, the investigators will observe public meetings being held in connection with ongoing CERP and CERCLA projects, interview key individuals, and then solicit comments on project findings which will then be incorporated into the report.
Improved understanding in citizen participation will facilitate changes that realign Federal policy and programs to better mobilize, empower, and collaborate with grassroots and nonprofit groups. The project's findings will reinforce and support risk-communication programs that work and move federal agencies to more complete costs accounting in decision-making for environmental projects affecting large, diverse areas.