Citizen Advisory Groups in Remedial Action Planning: Paper Tiger or Key to Success?
ABSTRACT In accordance with the Great Lakes Water Quality agreement and the Great Lakes Critical Protections Act, the Great Lakes States have developed (or are developing) remedial action plans (RAPs) for severely degraded areas of concern (AOCs). To provide citizen input into the planning process, state environmental agencies have established citizens' advisory groups (CAGs) for each AOC. These CAGs have been hailed as the key to RAP success, yet little is known about their role in the planning process. In this paper, we examine the constitution, organization and activities of CAGs in three Lake Michigan AOCs by comparing CAGs to municipal planning commissions, citizen advisory commissions and councils of government. We find that CAGs, like other advisory bodies, can provide public input into the planning process, foster communication between government agencies and special interest groups, and facilitate intergovernmental co-ordination. Also like other advisory bodies, however, CAGs can fail to represent all constituencies in the AOCs, have limited influence on agencies plans and activities, and lack the authority to assure the co-operation of local governments.
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