CAG Definitions

What is a CAG?

A Community Advisory Group (CAG) is made up of representatives of diverse community interests. Its purpose is to provide a public forum for community members to present and discuss their needs and concerns related to the Superfund decision-making process. A CAG can assist EPA in making better decisions on how to clean up a site. It offers EPA a unique opportunity to hear-and seriously consider-community preferences for site cleanup and remediation. However, the existence of a CAG does not eliminate the need for the Agency to keep the community informed about plans and decisions throughout the Superfund process.

Does My Community Need a CAG?

CAGs may not be appropriate for every site. CAGs may be beneficial at removal sites, particularly non-time critical removal sites, as well as sites involved in long-term cleanups. They can be formed at any point in the cleanup process. The earlier a CAG is formed, however, the more its members can participate in and impact site activities and cleanup decisions. EPA may assist communities in determining the need for a CAG by helping them evaluate the level of community interest in and concern about site activities. EPA may also examine if there is an existing broad-based group that might function as a CAG.

CAG Membership

How Many People Should Be In Our CAG?
The size of a CAG will depend on the needs of the affected community. While it often is difficult to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate and to achieve closure in large groups, the CAG should include enough members to adequately reflect the diversity of community interests regarding site cleanup and reuse. Typically CAGs have 15-20 members.

Who Should Be In Our CAG?
To the extent possible, membership in the CAG should reflect the composition of the community near the site and the diversity of racial, ethnic, and economic interests in the community. At least half of the CAG members should be members of the local community. CAG members should be drawn from among residents and owners of residential property near the site; others who may be directly affected by site releases; Native American tribes and communities; minority and low-income groups; local environmental or public interest groups; local government units; local labor representatives; and local businesses. Facility owners and other PRPs also may be included, but the community may choose to limit the number or designate them as ex officio members.

How Are CAG Members Selected?
CAG members may be selected in a number of ways. In some cases, CAGs may be self-selecting. That is, individuals who believe they represent the diverse interests of their community could nominate themselves. An existing group in the community—such as a group with a history of involvement at the Superfund site—could be selected as the CAG for that community if it represents the diverse interests of the community. The local government could select, in a fair and open manner, members of the community to serve on the CAG. EPA, with the involved State/Tribal /local governments, could assist the community in organizing a Screening Panel to review nominations for CAG membership. EPA could review (not approve/disapprove) the Panel’s list of nominees and offer advice, as needed, to ensure all community interests are represented. Or, EPA, with the appropriate State/Tribal/local governments, could select a core group that represents the diverse interests of the community. Members of this core group then could select the remaining members of the CAG in a fair and open manner.

Because each community is unique, suitable selection methods will vary; a formal process may not be necessary in every case. The key is to ensure that the CAG will be fully representative of the community and will be able to function effectively as a group.

Do CAG Members Need Any Training?
Many CAG members may require some initial training to enable them to perform their duties. EPA may work with State/Tribal agencies, local government(s), local universities, PRP(s), and others to provide training, prepare briefing materials, and conduct site tours for new CAG members.

What Responsibilities Do CAG Members Have?
Generally, CAG members should be expected to participate in CAG meetings, provide data and information to EPA on site issues, and share information with their fellow community members. They must be prepared to fairly and honestly represent not only their own personal views but also those of the community members they represent.

CAG members may select a Chairperson from within their ranks and determine an appropriate term of office. The primary functions of the CAG Chairperson are to conduct CAG meetings in a manner that encourages open and constructive participation by all members; to ensure that all pertinent community concerns are raised for consideration and discussion; and to attempt, whenever possible, to achieve consensus among CAG members.

Superfund Community Advisory Groups