Lobbying for Clean & Abundant Waters
Let’s face it: there is a lot of cynicism around what it means to lobby lawmakers. We often hear about our elected officials “being in the pocket” of this industry or that special interest group. And its’ true—lobbying, or meeting directly with elected officials—is a very powerful tool to affect change.
It’s time to take that power back
and place it in the hands of the people.
In 2020 the Center for Environmental Law & Policy, in partnership with our closest allies, called on our community to join us for the first ever Clean & Abundant Waters Lobby Week. Our goal was to prepare and empower folks with the tools, knowledge, and training needed to effectively advocate for bills that would protect our waterways.
Our inaugural Lobby Day drew 60 attendees from 27 legislative districts statewide, and together, our coalition met with 45 legislators. Of the six priority bills we focused our efforts on, four were passed and signed into law at the conclusion of the 2020 legislative session. Our coalition has grown since that first Clean & Abundant Waters Lobby Day, and we look forward to continue to support and harness the power of our community for many years to come.
Puget Soundkeeper Alliance
Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team
Being a Voice for Water
Think back to the last time a story gripped you—as you were transported to another place, maybe you noticed your palms start to sweat or your heart flutter. Scientific research shows that as you hear a story unfold, your brain waves actually start to synchronize with those of the storyteller and that personal testimony is the most effective way to persuade others.
As we continue to work to bring equity to Washington water management and protect this precious resource for humans, wildlife, and life itself, we need your help! Join your fellow water protectors in unleashing the power of your water story to highlight the vital importance of clean, flowing waters in our communities.
Each and every American has the right to participate in the regulatory process through public notice and comment. The government, in turn, is required to receive those comments, seriously consider them, and respond in kind. Commenting is an important way to have your voice heard on specific issues and regulations. Effective and relevant comments provide regulators with information to help them improve their rules, and may even impose a legal obligation on the agency or lay the groundwork for future litigation if comments are ignored.
The Power of Public Comment
Results in better regulations. By speaking to unique situations that an agency was unaware of or hadn’t contemplated in its evaluation of the policy, you ensure legal requirements, facts, unintended consequences, and/or errors are not overlooked.
Acts as the ‘canary in the coal mine’. Commenting helps decision-makers determine the level of acceptance or resistance among the public. In this way, decision-makers can respond to people’s needs, grievances, and preferences before enacting a law or regulation is passed.
Crowdsources solutions. We all carry biases and no one can be an expert in every issue. Providing public comment is your chance to point out issues, share your expertise, offer alternatives and substitute language, and help decision-makers identify solutions they may not have initially considered.
Provides an opportunity to influence the outcome. It is often much easier to prevent a law or regulation from being enacted then trying to abolish or revise it later. Public comments are an effective tool to oppose ineffectual or harmful policies before they can negatively impact the community.
Lays the groundwork for litigation. Even if your comments do not end up changing the regulation, they help create the administrative record that a federal agency or decision-maker has to consider when finalizing a rule or regulation. Government agencies are required to consider public comments. If the agency has failed to adequately consider the comments it received, a judge may invalidate the rule.
Comments are only effective, however, to the extent that they provide information directly relevant to analyzing the rule and its effects. Simply stating that you support or oppose a policy is not as persuasive as explaining how the policy would positively or negatively affect your specific situation or concerns. With decades of expertise, the Center for Environmental Law & Policy is particularly adept at composing public comments that are substantive, persuasive, and ultimately effective in influencing rule-makers. The collection of comments and letters below highlight our work utilizing this powerful tool in our mission to ensure the sustainable and equitable management of Washington waters.