June 01, 2015

Social Media: Changing the Landscape of Rulemaking

Nina Hart, Elisabeth Ulmer, and Lynn White

In April 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that was designed to clarify the scope of waters regulated by the Clean Water Act (CWA). The NPRM became one of the Obama administration’s most controversial regulatory proposals. In response to this controversy, the agencies and regulated communities quickly engaged social media in an effort to mobilize and influence stakeholders. Rulemaking is based on lengthy, complex proposals (the NPRM here was more than 300 pages of normal text) and does not necessarily lend itself well to the short, pithy sound bites traditionally used on social media platforms. For a variety of reasons, efforts to lead opinion produced uneven results.

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