"It is of paramount importance that USACE abstain from reaching any pending non-essential decisions or announcing new, non-essential opportunities for comment, and hold open all current commenting periods until 60 days after the national emergency is lifted. We also urge you to reschedule all public hearings once it is safe for the public to gather.
As you are aware, public participation is a central hallmark of our democracy. Notice and comment periods, such as those highlighted above, have become the principal method for the public to participate in the administrative process. To that end, the Administrative Procedure Act has formalized the public’s opportunity to weigh-in by mandating agencies to “give interested persons an opportunity to participate in the rulemaking through submission of written data, views, or arguments.” 5 U.S.C. § 553(c). This mandate improves the quality of agency action and ensures that the administrative process has both public accountability and legitimacy."