DEEP: Guidelines for Public Comments

Office of Adjudications

Guidelines for Effective Public Comments
Public Comment Procedure
  • You must sign up to speak.  Sign-up sheets will be provided at the hearing.  A separate sign-up sheet will be provided for elected officials. 
  • The hearing officer will announce the guidelines for public comments, including any time limits for speakers.  The hearing officer will also announce the deadline for submitting written comments, if necessary.
  • To make sure all others have a chance to speak, adjust your comments to the time limits and adapt your remarks to avoid making the same points made by previous speakers. 
  • Relevant comments, oral or written, will be considered and made part of the official record.  Comments should be factual and directly related to the purpose for the hearing. 
  • The hearing officer may ask you to make your comments under oath or you may ask to speak under oath.  If you are sworn, your comments will be considered as evidence if they are relevant to the issues the hearing officer must decide.  If you speak under oath, you will be subject to cross-examination by the parties at the hearing or at a later session.
  • If you have prepared written comments, summarize your material and submit the written comments to the hearing officer.  If you do not want to speak, submit your written comments to the hearing officer. 
  • Speakers are prohibited from questioning the parties or intervenors.  The hearing is not a question and answer session, however, most hearings will provide time for questions and discussions off the record.
  • Direct your comments to the hearing officer.  Respectful behavior is expected from all participants. Outbursts and remarks from the audience are prohibited.
Tips for Effective Comments
  • Make your comments effective by knowing the facts.
  • Understand the issues the hearing officer must decide. Comment only on issues relevant to the decision.
  • Stick to the time limits set by the hearing officer.  State your concerns clearly and succinctly.  Target specific issues; include facts, data, experiences or other evidence that supports your position.
  • Propose specific ideas or suggestions for solving any problems you identify.
  • Keep your comments brief and focused; donít feel compelled to comment on every issue.
  • Use your time well Ė avoid repetition, note any agreement with comments expressed by others and move on.  Repetitive comments may show the extent of public interest, but additional relevant comments and information are more effective.
Written Comments
  • Must be submitted before the announced deadline to be considered.
  • May be as long or as short as necessary but should focus on relevant issues.
  • Should address the issues you are most concerned about.
  • Should follow the procedures and tips for speakers.
Remember:  Constructive comments, positive or negative, will help the hearing process; destructive comments are no help at all.

Notice:  This document is intended to provide basic information to the public; it is not intended to be legal advice and should not be considered as such. General information on the permit application process is also available from the DEEP Permit Assistance Office. Specific information on a permit application or an enforcement order is also available from the various DEEP Bureaus: Air Management, Materials Management and Compliance Assurance, and Water Protection and Land Reuse.

Content last updated August 2009