Using the Federal Register to Speak Your Truth to Power

Many proposed federal rules cannot be enacted until after a  30-day period for public comments. Using the Federal Register will allow you to make these comments on a government platform.

Let’s look at two current public comment opportunities.

First, there’s the issue of nutrition regulations for children’s school lunches. This proposed rule change is titled “Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements.” If that word “flexibilities” strikes you as ominous, you’re on the right track. These rule changes would weaken school lunch program regulations allowing “flavored” (aka sweetened, with higher calories and no additional nutritional benefit) milk, the use of “whole” grains that are less “whole” than required by current guidelines, and loosened limits on the sodium content of school lunches. Click on the green “Submit a Formal Comment” button to go to the comment page and to let the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service know exactly what you think about feeding our children sweeter, saltier, lower-fiber lunches.

Second, there’s proposed expansion of offshore oil drilling with reduced safety regulations. Have some opinions on that topic? I bet you do! Click that green comment box and explain how you feel about opening up our coastlines to drilling and the potentially catastrophic spills that come with it.

Why does commenting matter?

• Commenting matters because these are rule changes that will have significant impacts on our daily lives, the health of our children, and the security of some of our nation’s most beautiful territory.

• You can bet that the vested-interests crowd is making comments and that they have sophisticated strategies for doing this.

Spambots. During the comment period on rules to end net neutrality thousands of posts were made supporting an end to neutrality and falsely submitted using the personal information of individual Americans. The state of New York is currently investigating these false comments—you can use a site they’ve set up to see whether any comments were filed in your name.

(Note: These are resources I’m just learning to use, so for the moment, I’m sharing two specific links. I’ll write more about using your own searches, etc., once I’m more adept at doing them. If you know more than I do and want to add information in the comments section on this blog, please do.)