Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Workshop 2: Public Notice, Review, Shelf Life Voting Results

Below is a summary of the dots for Workshop 2: Public Notice, Review, Shelf Life.


Are agencies, stakeholders and the public adequately notified under 343?

Agencies, stakeholders and the public are adequately notified.
(5: 1Red dot, 4Blue dot)
  • People should be proactive and not expect to be spoon-fed information.
  • There will always be people who say they did not hear about a project. (3: 2Red dot, 1Blue dot)
  • The current system works well; usually works well; does not need to be changed. (Red dot)
Agencies and NGOs are adequately notified, but the public and individuals are not.
  • The public finds out late and has to scramble to keep up. (2: 1Red dot, 1Green dot)
  • Environmental justice is an issue – those with the least resources are the least informed. (2Green dot)
  • People do not know there is a process to participate in; the process mystifies the public. (2: 1Red dot, 1Green dot)
Budget and staffing constraints limit how much can be done.

The process can be improved by:

Better use of the internet/website. (4: 1Red dot, 3Blue dot)
  • Use listserve/email; allow sign-up for notification of actions in areas of interest (judicial districts, geographic areas, types of projects). (12: 3Red dot, 5Green dot, 4Blue dot)
  • Include link to online document in email notice. (Red dot)
Increased outreach. (2: 1Red dot, 1Green dot)
  • Post signs on property. (3Green dot)
  • Notify neighbors (calls, postcards).
  • Community meetings.
  • Ads (newspaper, radio).
  • Circulate the OEQC bulletin more widely; use libraries.
Have more public education about the process. (Green dot)
  • Agencies, organizations, and the public would all benefit from better understanding the process. (13: 3Red dot, 4Green dot, 6Blue dot)

Guidance. (Blue dot)
  • How much/what kind of notice is “adequate”?
  • Make the process more consistent across agency, state, county, federal levels.
Do more pre-consultation and scoping. (3Blue dot)
  • Figuring out what the issues are in advance makes the process more efficient. (10: 2Red dot, 5Green dot, 3Blue dot)
Comments and Concerns:
  • Notify relevant agencies directly instead of relying on the OEQC Bulletin.
  • The public is notified by activists, not through the system. (2: 1Green dot, 1Blue dot)
  • Making the system user-friendly for the public will avoid a lot of frustration and anger. When people have to look too hard to find something they feel excluded. (Green dot)
  • We should be careful about legislating this because people will sue over the manini details.
  • It would be onerous to requires a meeting by law for every project.
  • EISs are too lengthy and technical for most people to read; provide plain-language, summary documents that are user-friendly. (Red dot)

Are agencies actively participating in reviewing documents?

Amount/quality of participation varies by agency. (Blue dot)
  • Comments are cursory, boiler plate.
  • Comments should represent agency’s agenda/expertise.
  • Some agencies make unreasonable requests for studies marginally related to project. (11: 3Red dot, 8Blue dot)
Yes, agencies are actively participating.
  • Agencies are active on relevant documents. (Red dot)
There is not enough time.
  • 30 days is too short. (2Green dot)
  • documents are lengthy.
  • There are many projects, we can’t get to them all; we have to prioritize.
Is the comment and response process working well?
“Comment bombing” is an issue. (9: 2Green dot, 7Blue dot)
  • Not every comment deserves an individual response. (19: 7Red dot, 1Green dot, 11Blue dot)
  • Comment bombing is an issue, but everyone deserves the right to comment. (2: 1Red dot, 1Blue dot)
  • Documents become too long when we have to reproduce every letter. (Blue dot)
Response to comments is sometimes inadequate. (8: 2Red dot, 6Green dot)
  • There is no recourse if response to comments is inadequate and concerns are not addressed.
  • It is not adequate to respond to a comment by referring back to the document section.

Ways to improve the review process: (Green dot)

Improve quality of review:
  • Create incentives for review (for agencies, UH faculty).
  • A body of paid experts to conduct review. (2: 1Green dot, 1Blue dot)
  • An independent government agency to conduct review. (2: 1Red dot, 1Green dot)
More pre-consultation and scoping. (7: 2Red dot, 1Green dot, 4Blue dot)
  • Better quality documents would minimize need for review. (6: 2Red dot, 3Green dot, 1Blue dot)
More education about the process for the public and agency staff. (Green dot)

Lengthen the public review period or extend it if necessary, be lenient for public comment. (5Green dot)

Have a dedicated staff person in each agency; have a single point of contact. (4: 1Red dot, 3Green dot)

More guidance to determine adequacy of responses. (Green dot)

Do not require individual response to comments that do not warrant it. (5: 1Red dot, 4Blue dot)

Comments and Concerns:
  • The process doesn’t yield meaningful results. (2Green dot)
  • Comments are very technical and miss the big picture the community is concerned with.
  • Personal attacks and grievances are not about the impacts. (2Blue dot)
  • The governor’s office can help understaffed agencies.

Should there be a shelf life for environmental review documents?

Documents should have a shelf life.
(10: 3Red dot, 6Green dot, 1Blue dot)
  • After a time deadline there should be a procedure in place to determine if a new or supplemental document is needed (after 3/5/7/10/15 years). (22: 6Red dot, 13Green dot 3Blue dot)
  • A 5/10/20 year document should no longer be valid. (Green dot)
  • There should be a sunset clause; a 20-year old document cannot accurately reflect current impacts. (10: 1Red dot, 5Green dot, 3Blue dot)
  • 2 years after final permit is issued.
  • Only if there are significant change to the project or circumstances. (45: 18Red dot, 5Green dot, 22Blue dot)
This is a valid concern but there are reservations because: (Red dot)
  • Projects take a long time to complete, we don’t want them further delayed. (6: 2Red dot, 4Blue dot)
  • An arbitrary drop-dead date would be punitive. (3: 1Red dot, 2Blue dot)
  • Zoning or permit should expire; this should not be in 343. (3: 2Red dot, 1Green dot)
  • Requiring a new EIS might cause projects to miss funding window, especially for federal matching funds. (Green dot)
  • If there is no finality to the process, financing will suffer and lawsuits will be more difficult to resolve. Things done in the past will always be insufficient. (3: 1Green dot, 2Blue dot)

What should be the standard for review to determine if new or updated document is needed? (7: 2Red dot, 5Blue dot)

Resubmit the document for public review. (3: 1Red dot, 1Green dot, 1Blue dot)
  • If new issues have arisen they will be revealed through this process.
Assess documents on a case-by-case basis. (6: 2Red dot, 1Green dot, 3Blue dot)
  • Review based on significant change in: environment, project, traffic, population, land use, economy, public concern, noise, pollution. (18: 5Red dot, 4Green dot, 9Blue dot)
  • Review based on criteria (might look at NEPA’s “40 questions”). (2: 1Red dot, 1Green dot)
  • Review based on certain % change in criteria, allow 10% margin of error.
  • OEQC or overseeing agency should do review. (2Green dot)
Clarify existing rules for supplemental EISs. (2: 1Red dot, 1Blue dot)

Comments and Concerns:
  • Should be able to do a targeted study that only addresses changes. (5: 1Red dot, 3Green dot, 1Blue dot)
  • The time frame for government should be longer than for private sector.
  • The time frame for rapidly developing areas should be shorter.
  • If a project has already begun, it should not be required to update. (Red dot)
  • We need an information system/data base to detect and record changes so we have something to do assessment with. (4: 3Green dot, 1Blue dot)

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