How do laws, regulations, policies, and community science affect each other? Community-collected data has the power to prompt local, state, or federal action by alerting government agencies to an issue. At the same time, laws will affect how community scientists can collect their data for maximum potential impact.
Some subjects that you might see included here in the future:
- How can community-sourced data be used to impact or enforce regulations at the local, tribal, state, or federal level?
- What can community members do to improve their chances of having impact through legal channels?
- How do laws and agencies enable or impair the ability of communities to collect and contribute data?
This page is a place to collect and organize resources on law and policy, and their relationships with community-led science. Visit the law-and-policy tag page to see the latest community posts about law and policy on Public Lab, and get updates on this topic by subscribing:
What other resources related to law and policy would be helpful to collect here? Please edit this wiki!
Questions on law and policy
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Activities related to law and policy
Activities on Public Lab that have been tagged with
law-and-policy will appear here
|Practice reporting suspected frac sand violations||-||-||@stevie||-||-||0 replications: Try it »|
Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.
The posts below include discussions and information on how community-collected data can become evidence in a legal case.
Environmental Evidence Project - Introduction: beginning the conversation on how community-collected data can be used as evidence to stimulate action.
The Many Types of Evidence: outlining the different kinds of data that someone might collect as evidence and how they differ from each other.
Interview: Chris Nidel on environmental evidence in court: interview with an attorney who shares insights on what can make community-sourced data admissible in court (short answer: there is no easy answer and no guarantees).
Community-sourced data and legal issues
Each of us has our own way of thinking about and doing community science. The posts linked below describe an approach to community science from the perspective of @lenagd, an attorney with extensive experience in environmental law. Within the posts you’ll find:
A three-step approach to using community-sourced data in the legal system:
Step 1. Identifying the problem: how it should work + common legal obstacles
Step 2. Gathering the evidence: how it should work + common legal obstacles
Step 3. Turning evidence into action: how it should work + common legal obstacles
You can find the full posts on “Citizen Science Investigations: aka 'Common Legal Issues when using Community Sourced Data'” here:
Regulations within topic areas on Public Lab
Much of the resources and activity on the Public Lab website are organized by Topic areas--for example, air quality, water quality, and land use. On each Topic’s wiki page (see an example linked below), we’re hoping to include background on what laws and regulations exist and where gaps are, plus examples and stories of how community science can interact with the regulatory world. These sections could cover:
1. Regulations related to the Topic
- Federal level regulations (e.g., set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US)
- How to find other regulations that may exist at your state level
- What’s currently hot in the regulatory world
2. Examples and stories of what community-collected data can do with regulations in this Topic area
- Stimulate government investigation
- Be used directly by agencies in their assessment
- Be used in lawsuits
We hope that the stories will demonstrate the power of local community knowledge and expertise and inspire others who are seeking to address an environmental concern.
Indoor air quality
Regulations on indoor air quality: check out this example of what Topic pages could include on federal and state regulations and policies.
Air quality (outdoor)
US EPA standards: national ambient air quality standards set by the EPA, following the Clean Air Act.