Rick Gehrke, Effectiveness of Citizen Participation in Governmental Decisions: A Case Study of the Appalachian Development Highway System Corridor K Project- Ocoee Section
Faculty Chair: Dr. John Tucker
Literature Review Abstract
Under United States law, citizens can participate federal and state agency decisions concerning the use of public resources. Among grass roots environmental Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), many activists question the value of their efforts toward influencing policy decisions, and the degree to which their input is considered by implementing agencies. They also struggle to maximize the effectiveness of activist projects which are often carried out by part time volunteers on minimal budgets. To study these issues, this research focused on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and NGO actions concerning a proposed highway construction project, Appalachian Development Highway System Corridor K, in Polk County, Tennessee. Objectives were to identify public involvement opportunities, observe public awareness and participation, evaluate the implementation of NEPA public involvement provisions, and evaluate the effects of public involvement on the decision process. Methods focused on observation of political processes through literature review and direct participation. The research found that there was generally low public awareness of the issue at the beginning of the research period (2004-2006), but that it increased significantly through NGO action. NEPA public involvement provisions were treated effectively, and ample opportunities for public involvement were available. Public involvement was limited, but had significant influence. Effective NGO actions include participation n the NEPA process, contact and participation with public agencies, contributing articles for publication, and networking to obtain support and increase public awareness.