When the state agency proposing a project (the "sponsoring agency") holds a public scoping meeting, it will choose a meeting format that is suited to the type of project and the size of the anticipated audience. The meeting can be very formal, with presentations by the sponsoring agency followed by comments from the public in the manner of a public hearing. Sometimes, an agency will schedule a more informal session, where citizens can view maps and displays on their own and communicate one-on-one with agency staff. If the sponsoring agency expects a low turnout, it might even hold the meeting around a table, as if it were a committee meeting.
It is important to remember that the sponsoring agency is required to conduct scoping at the earliest possible point in the planning of the proposed project. When you attend a scoping meeting, you should not expect the agency to be able to provide detailed information about the project's design, alternatives, or environmental impact. At a scoping meeting, the sponsoring agency is there to hear your thoughts about what alternatives and what environmental impacts should be studied when it conducts the Environmental Impact Evaluation.
By law, the sponsoring agency must provide the following at a public scoping meeting:
(A) a description of the proposed action,
(B) a description of the purpose and need of the proposed action,
(C) a list of the criteria for a site for the proposed action,
(D) a list of potential sites for the proposed action,
(E) the resources of any proposed site of the proposed action,
(F) the environmental limitations of such sites,
(G) potential alternatives to the proposed action, and
(H) any other information the sponsoring agency deems necessary.