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Published on: News

Why Are Public Comment Periods Important?

No matter what side of the aisle you stand on or what issues you care about, we can all agree that government transparency is essential to a functioning democracy. At FCV, we prioritize accountability, and a huge part of a state body or politician’s effectiveness is based on how connected they are with their constituents. Public comment is a conduit between those in power and the People. But what exactly is public comment? And why is it so important? 

When agencies make big decisions, they ideally include several public comment periods. A public comment period is a time set aside by an agency for you to do just that – comment publicly. Submitting a comment allows you to give input on a proposed piece of policy, whether it’s written in a letter, filled out online, or stated from a public meeting podium. Public comment periods are open to everyone, from private citizens to non-profit organizations, and even lobby groups. After receiving comments the agency is required to take them into consideration as the construct their final piece of policy. 

Government agencies like the Florida Department of Environmental Protection,  Public Service Commission, and Florida Department of Transportation want to know how their proposals will impact communities. After all, our government works for us. We call the shots, in theory. By speaking up and submitting a public comment, we reject the idea that we are helpless in the face of bad policy. Law is not driven by government alone, but by our voices and our vote. Public comment makes inclusive decision-making possible. There is no better way to make your voice heard. Never submitted a public comment before? Here are some quick tips for participating in a public comment period

  • Read the document you are commenting on thoroughly.
  • Clearly state what your position is on the issue. 
  • Address what you think the trade-offs will be if your position is not selected.
  • Do not limit yourself in length.

Your voice is needed now for two open actions. With our Clean Buses campaign, we need your help to urge the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to prioritize children’s health by investing 70 percent of Volkswagen Settlement Funds towards clean, electric school buses. Click here or visit https://p2a.co/RCRb0xt to submit your comment today. Deadline: Aug. 16

Our second public comment campaign is to urge the Public Service Commission to adopt energy-savings goals for the utilities they regulate. This year the utilities are proposing energy-savings goals that amount to ZERO. This is unacceptable. Along with our friends at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and others, we’re asking you to join us in demanding that the PSC support energy savings goals. We need meaningful energy savings goals because a plan that does nothing is simply a waste of energy. Click here or visit https://p2a.co/7cYKdxt to submit your public comment. Deadline: Aug. 12

Public comment periods are a true tool of democracy, but only if we use it.