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Using Plain Language in Environmental Documents

Thinking Forward
Categorized Under: Environment



This article, written by ICF International, discusses some of the challenges in applying the Federal Plain Language Guidelines to environmental documents and suggests how to follow those guidelines. The recently approved Plain Writing Act mandates the use of plain language in certain federal documents. Other U.S. federal regulations require its use in environmental documents, such as environmental impact statements (EISs) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). However, it can be challenging to write environmental documents in plain language because they must achieve two competing goals: 1) reach a broad, public audience, and 2) convey a technically sound, adequate impact analysis.

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Authored By

  • Chris Small

    Lead EditorICF International

    Christian Small serves as a technical writer for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents and supporting technical studies. His primary focus is local and regional planning and transportation projects.

    He has written, helped to write, and conducted research for diverse resource areas, including aesthetics, agricultural resources, land use and planning, mineral resources, population and housing, public services, and socioeconomics. He has served as a data and spreadsheet analyst on several projects.

Insight Details

Published: Apr 1, 2011
Source: ICF International

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