Environmental Impact Issues Require Openness

Article excerpt

Industries stand a better chance of gaining public support for projects with environmental impact by demonstrating openness and treating citizens with respect, according to the director of the Institute for Environmental Management at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

"The benefit of effective risk communication is that a company or organization in the private sector that involves the public as a partner in decision making has a much higher likelihood of being successful in getting their project through," said Dr. Daniel Boatright.

Boatright will be a featured speaker at a July 12 seminar on "The Risk Assessment Approach to Establishing Cleanup Levels," sponsored by the Environmental Federation of Oklahoma at Oklahoma City Community College.

"If a company tries to effect change in a community that will impact people's lives, and the quality of their life and environment, without involving them, it's almost certainly not going to be successful," he said.

The Institute for Environmental Management gets frequent requests from industry, other agencies and communities wanting to know what kinds of questions they need to be asking about a project. "We try to bring everyone to the table and make sure everyone understands that they play a role in decision making relative to environmental projects," Boatright said.

"We hopefully are a resource for risk communication efforts that anyone can come to."

Boatright will address the topic of risk communication at the July 12 seminar. The term refers to "the process by which we attempt to make sure the community is informed about the decisions that are necessary; that they have enough information to make decisions or be involved in the decision making process on environmental issues," he said. …