Plain Language Project

What is Plain Language?

According to the Federal Plain Writing Act of 2010,  plain language is, "writing that is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience." explains that material is in plain language if your audience can: 

Materials in plain language if audience can:

Why is Plain Language important for achieving environmental health & justice?

Environmental protection in the U.S. occurs through a complex system of federal, state, and local rules and enforcement. Major federal policies, such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, give much authority to states in implementation. 

Decisions at all levels of government often require public participation. Public comments are frequently sought on regulations, rules, plans, and laws. For instance, when a facility requests a permit to install for new equipment or processes that may lead to increases in pollution, the public is typically invited to provide public comments. Public comments can strengthen environmental decision-making processes and outcomes by providing the lead agency with facts or perspectives they had not acknowledged or addressed.

Plain Language is for everyone. It may help to improve meaningful participation in environmental decision-making, which is needed to achieve environmental justice. 

Lessons from a Plain Language Analysis: U.S. Clean Air Act Title V Public Notices as Barriers to Environmental Justice

Based on lessons from 20 states, we developed a template public notice for state environmental agencies.                              

Plain Language as a Prerequisite for Environmental Justice

 In 2020, EHRA joined with the Clear Language Lab to identify opportunities for increasing plain language in MI's environmental decision-making processes with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. 

During the 2021 Michigan Environmental Justice Conference, Samra'a Luqman, April Wendling, and EHRA's Dr. Natalie Sampson presented on the value of plain language.