Communication and Public Participation in Environmental Decision Making

Edited by Stephen P. Depoe, John W. Delicath, and Marie-France Aepli Elsenbeer

Subjects: Environmental Politics, Democracy, Communication
Series: SUNY series in Communication Studies
Paperback : 9780791460245, 324 pages, July 2011
Hardcover : 9780791460238, 324 pages, February 2004

Table of contents

List of Figures and Tables


Stephen P. Depoe and John W. Delicath

Part I. Theorizing and Constructing More Effective Public Participation Processes

1. The Trinity of Voice: The Role of Practical Theory in Planning and Evaluating the Effectiveness of Environmental Participatory Processes
Susan L. Senecah

2. A Social Communication Perspective Toward Public Participation: The Case of the Cispus Adaptive Management Area
Amanda C. Graham

3. Competing and Converging Values of Public Participation: A Case Study of Participant Views in Department of Energy Nuclear Weapons Cleanup
Jennifer Duffield Hamilton

4. Public Expertise: A Foundation for Citizen Participation in Energy and Environmental Decisions
William J. Kinsella

Part II. Evaluating Mechanisms for Public Participation in Environmental Decision Making

5. Decide, Announce, Defend: Turning the NEPA Process into an Advocacy Tool Rather than a Decision-Making Tool
Judith Hendry

6. The Roadless Areas Initiative as National Policy: Is Public Participation an Oxymoron?
Gregg B. Walker

7. Public Participation and (Failed) Legitimation: The Case of Forest Service Rhetorics in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area
Steve Schwarze

8. Public Involvement, Civic Discovery, and the Formation of Environmental Policy: A Comparative Analysis of the Fernald Citizens Task Force and the Fernald Health Effects Subcommittee
Stephen P. Depoe

9. Public Participation or Stakeholder Frustration: An Analysis of Consensus-Based Participation in the Georgia Ports Authority's Stakeholder Evaluation Group
Caitlin Wills Toker

10. "Free Trade" and the Eclipse of Civil Society: Barriers to Transparency and Public Participation in NAFTA and the Free Trade Area of the Americas
J. Robert Cox

Part III. Emergent Participation Practices Among Activist Communities

11. Global Governance and Social Capital: Mapping NGO Capacities in Different Institutional Contexts
Amos Tevelow

12. Toxic Tours: Communicating the "Presence" of Chemical Contamination
Phaedra C. Pezzullo

13. Art and Advocacy: Citizen Participation Through Cultural Activism
John W. Delicath


List of Contributors


Looks at the critical role of community members and other interested parties in environmental policy decision making.


The contributors to this volume explore the communication practices of various stakeholders—interested citizens, grassroots and public interest groups, industry representatives, scientists and technical experts, government agencies, federal regulators—engaged in a variety of environmental decision-making contexts in the U. S. and elsewhere. Included are case studies that analyze individuals and organizations participating both within institutional mechanisms and through alternative forms of environmental advocacy. These studies reveal that public participation in environmental decision making is both shaped by and, in many cases, constrained by the ways in which environmental issues, problems, and solutions are defined or framed through the strategic communication practices of the participants.

Stephen P. Depoe is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Cincinnati. At the Center for Environmental Communication Studies, Depoe is Director. John W. Delicath is Communications Analyst with the Natural Resources and Environment Group at the U. S. General Accounting Office in Washington, DC. At the Center for Environmental Communication Studies Marie-France Aepli Elsenbeer is Research Associate. at the Center for Environmental Communication Studies.


"This is an excellent book for anyone interested in contemporary practice of public participation … For those already versed in the public participation literature, there will be much that is familiar. But the slight sense of having heard some of this before is much outweighed by the richness of the material and the strength of the communication studies approach, providing a consistent spine through all the work. " — Journal of Environmental Management and Planning

"…this volume provides a good overview of theory and practice in environmental decision-making, plus a 34-page bibliography that covers the three and-and-a-half decades of environmental public involvement. " — Technical Communication

"These essays address issues that are vital to environmentalism and public policy, as well as contribute to communication studies and political science. The overwhelming strength of the book is the plethora of case studies. In relating these cases, the authors contribute not only to general knowledge, but also to social theory and environmental communication. " — Kevin Michael DeLuca, author of Image Politics: The New Rhetoric of Environmental Activism

"This book will make a substantial and important contribution to the literature, not only in communication studies and environmental studies, but also in urban planning and policy making. " — James A. Throgmorton, coeditor of Story and Sustainability: Planning, Practice, and Possibility for American Cities