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Procedural Issues

Procedural Issues

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Published by: James "Chip" Northrup on Jan 04, 2013
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01/05/2013

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January 4, 2013 Attn: Draft HVHF Regulations Comments New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 625 Broadway

Albany, NY 12233-6510 Dear Commissioner Martens: The manner and timing with which the revised regulations were released for comment causes the entire process to be fatally flawed for the following reasons:

The findings of the final SGEIS should have been made available before or simultaneously with the revised regulations, with sufficient time for the public and the industry to read and understand the final SGEIS plus sufficient time to comment on the revised regulations. Even if the public and the industry had the benefit of a final SGEIS, thirty days during a period with two major holidays is simply insufficient time to comment properly on regulations that are based on several years’ worth of submissions and draft documents. Without the findings contained in the final SGEIS, the public and the industry has no way of knowing what the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (the Department) has covered in the SGEIS; what additions, deletions or changes will be made from the revised draft SGEIS; or what specific areas of the SGEIS the Department intends to include in permitting conditions. This makes intelligent commenting on the revised regulations virtually impossible. Comments must be based on guesses about findings that may or may not be contained in the final SGEIS. Without having the findings of the final SGEIS, it is impossible for the public and the industry to put forth reasons that some items should be codified in the regulations and not left for permit conditions. The draft SGEIS of 2009 and the revised draft SGEIS of 2011 had the same topic mentioned in more than one place. It is not known whether the final SGEIS will have similar areas of ambiguity. Without a final SGEIS, the public and the industry have no basis to propose clarifying some of those topics in the regulations. Without a final SGEIS, the public and the industry have no way to determine whether there are any gaps between the 1992 GEIS and the final SGEIS and therefore no basis to comment about how such gaps might be addressed in the revised regulations. By receiving comments on the revised regulations before the final SGEIS is published, the Department has given itself the opportunity to review public comments on the revised regulations, accept those that it wishes, and “adjust” the final SGEIS to support those changes in the revised regulations that the department wishes to accept. Any procedure that would not protect against such manipulation is fatally flawed.

For the foregoing reasons, the revised regulations should be withdrawn and reissued for comments after a final SGEIS has been published. Yours truly,

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