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Ideally, public participation in rule-making leads to better rules. Failure to involve the public obviously dilutes or vitiates democracy in crucial ways. This Article will discuss the hearing process of administrative rule-making, and ways that agencies can accommodate multi-cultural differences so as to improve both access to participation and the efficacy of that participation. Specifically, this paper will discuss the environmental justice movement. Part II of this Article places participation problems in context by looking at specific issues of environmental equity in the rule-making process. Part III examines the need to expand public participation as a desirable goal, discusses obstacles minorities face in participating in the rule-making process, and applies the Administrative Procedure Act to the goals of participation. Part IV addresses some theoretical and practical concerns of the efforts by EPA to expand public participation. Part V offers some possible means by which minorities may be included in the process more effectively.


This article originally appeared in 24 Colum. J. Envtl. L. 169 (1999).