Citizen Access to Complex Environmental Decision Making: A Case Study of the Proposed LNG Pipeline in Oregon
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The ideals of popular sovereignty and equal access to involvement in the political process among all citizens are fundamental to the structure of democracy. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was passed in 1996 in attempt to preserve these values in agency environmental decision making process, in addition to mandating agency consideration of environmental impacts. However, decades of public participation research has revealed that citizens do not always have equal access to decision making processes that impact their surrounding environment. This research examines the experience of citizens engaged with NEPA mandated regulatory processes through a case study of citizens impacted by the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline and Jordan Cove Energy Project proposals. Both the resources utilized by citizens in order to participate and the challenges citizens faced throughout engagement are addressed in this research. Results of the research reveal that current public participation practices produce a circumstance in which maintaining a high level of engagement in decision making processes is are taxing to participants and requires extensive participant commitment. Based on these results this document provides a suggestion for an educational resource to aid citizens in participating more effectively.