NEPA Projects (EISs) Using Social Media Sites

Acronyms: NEPA = National Environmental Policy Act while NAEP = National Association of Environmental Professionals

This week, I'm at the NAEP conference in Atlanta, volunteering to teach environmental professionals about using Twitter. Unlike the APA conference where there was chatter on Twitter before the conference, Twitter was completely silent before the NAEP conference. So we're going to try a different focus at the NAEP conference. Rather than talk to folks about using Twitter for their projects like we did at the APA conference, we're going to focus on 4 specific NEPA projects (all environmental impact statements) that are using social media sites, like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

SocialMedia

Below are 4 environmental impact statements (EISs) that all use different combinations of social media tools and have different administrative record policies. For example, one EIS only uses Twitter; another EIS is using 4 different social media sites. The EISs also range in administrative record policy–some EISs DON'T include comments via social media sites in the administrative record, and other EISs DO include comments via social media sites in the administrative record. Ideally, these 4 EISs demonstrate that there are a variety of social media tools being used and administrative record policies being implemented.


4 NEPA Projects (EISs) using Social Media Sites

Public Involvement Meeting for Loop 1604 EIS

Public Involvement Meeting for Loop 1604 EIS

Loop 1604 Project

FHWA, TxDOT, Alamo RMA
Description: improvements to Loop 1604 (37 miles) in Bexar County, Texas

Facebook: 360 people liked it
Flickr: 125 photos
Twitter: 69 followers
YouTube: 418 videos watched

Administrative Record Policy: “Comments made on these sites (Twitter, Facebook, Socializer, blogs), herein called ‘social media sites” will be not be included or evaluated as part of the ongoing Environmental Impact Statement decision-making process… These social media sites are available for and intended to encourage public dialogue about the project and are, as such, provided for outreach and informational purposes only.”


Rosemont Copper EIS

Rosemont Mining Project

Rosemont Mining Project

US Forest Service
Description: mining and processing of copper, molybdenum, and silver ore in the Nogales Ranger District in Arizona

Twitter: 14 followers

Administrative Record Policy: “Forest Service would use Twitter™ for notification only – one-way communication, not dialogue”


I-95

I-95

Driving I-95

FHWA, NCDOT
Description: Improve I-95 in North Carolina

Facebook: 32 people liked it
Twitter: 26 followers
YouTube: 60 channel views (no project videos uploaded yet)

Administrative Record Policy: “All comments or posts made to Driving 95 accounts, walls, forums or pages are public, not private. This means that both the posts of the employee administrator and any feedback by other employees or non-employees, including citizens, will become part of the public record.”


Metro’s Westside Subway Extension

Metro’s Westside Subway Extension

Metro’s Westside Subway Extension

Los Angeles Metro
Description: alternative analysis for subway extension

Facebook: 2,361 members

Administrative Record Policy: “Comments, questions and posts on our wall will become part of the official public comment record for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (Draft EIS/EIR) currently in progress.”

Note: All participation counts are from April 21, 2010.


Handout for Easy Printing

In case it's helpful, here's a handout that Anthony designed that summarizes the 4 EISs, their social media participation counts and their administrative records policies:

NEPAProjects(EISs)UsingSocialMediaSitesHandout

You can provide this handout to the people in your organization that might have implemented Facebook or Twitter blocking policies. If you have been or are successful in reversing those policies, please share below how you did this.

Also, there are other environmental assessments and environmental impact statements out there using social media tools other than the 4 EISs listed above. If you know of any other EAs and EISs that should be included in this list, please leave a comment below.

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7 Responses to NEPA Projects (EISs) Using Social Media Sites

  1. Darrel W. Cole April 27, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    Kristen,
    What a helpful post and summary. Working for a design/engineering firm and doing PR for clients of the firm, I can tell you social media utilization for EIS’s or any planning effort is new to many, and a challenge to get included in the PR/Public Involvement. Thanks so much for this. Extremely helpful.

  2. Kristen Carney April 27, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    Darrel,
    Thanks so much for the kudos. If you find yourself using social media for any of your projects, please let me know, and I’ll include them here for others.

    Kristen

  3. Darrel W. Cole April 27, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    I am sure working on it!!!! And, will definitely let you know.

  4. Christine Eberhard April 29, 2010 at 10:39 pm #

    Kristen,
    Great ideas for using social media and excellent examples We specialize in public outreach for airport planning as well as environmental work and will pass this on to several clients. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Kristen Carney April 30, 2010 at 8:29 am #

    Christine,
    I’m glad it was helpful, and thanks for passing it on! Please let me know if you guys use social media for your airport projects, and I’ll add them here as additional examples.
    k

  6. Jason Lally May 4, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    Kristen,

    It was great to meet you at APA and it’s good to see you doing the work of getting tools into the hands of different practitioners. It is easy to dismiss Twitter or other social media as a fad, but like any tool, the power is in how you use it. Just like any media engagement, it is good to have a strategy. The great thing about social media is that barriers to entry are much lower, and instead of going through an intermediary like a newspaper or ad agency, you can engage directly with constituents and stakeholders.

    We’ve been successfully using Twitter and Facebook combined with a project website to gain a following around the Albany2030 comprehensive plan (http://www.albany2030.org). The thing that interests us about the future prospects here is not letting the social engagement end when the planning process ends, but using the social networks as leverage for future work and sustained community building.

  7. Kristen Carney May 4, 2010 at 1:58 pm #

    Jason,
    It was great to meet you, too! It’s funny the range of reactions that Anthony and I get when we speak with planners about using social media tools for public involvement–everything from “I would never use social media, because we couldn’t control the conversation” to “That’s old news. Isn’t everyone doing that by now?” Thanks for mentioning Albany 2030 as an example project. I hope you guys will do a blog post about what worked and what didn’t work.
    Kristen

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