Are agencies making a proper finding of no significant impact?
Agencies are making a proper finding of no significant impact. (4: 1, 2, 1)
- Agencies are sensitive to controversy and try to err on the side of caution. (2: 1, 1)
- Agencies act in good faith; mistakes are unintended. (2)
- Usually, except when under political pressure. (2)
- Incentives are against finding significant impacts. (11: 3, 7, 1)
- Agencies attempt to segment projects to get FONSIs.
- Agencies “mitigate down” to a FONSI. (3)
- Impacts (cumulative, visual) are not properly considered in determinations. (4)
OEQC should play a stronger role. (8: 6, 1, 1)
- Define ‘significance.’ (2)
- Develop criteria for agencies and train staff. (3: 2, 1)
- Publish best practices.
- Do 5-year audit of agency determinations.
- If there is controversy or obvious significant impacts, an EA wastes time.
- Most agencies think they already know if a project requires an EA or EIS.
- EAs look more like EISs to avoid re-contracting and save time/money.
- If a FONSI is improperly issued, then the burden is on the public to take it to court.
- “An army of lawyers” is necessary to resolve these challenges.
- Offer more than choices than FONSI or full EIS.
Increase transparency and oversight.
- Allow community more time to review documents. (2)
- Educate political appointees and stakeholders about the process.
- Allow for 3rd party oversight (e.g. OEQC). ()
- The burden is on the public to challenge improper actions by government agencies.
- “The public thinks an EA is nothing, do not trust FONSIs, and believe an EIS is the only way to address impacts or influence project development.”
- Not all significant impacts can be mitigated. People want projects stopped, not mitigated. (4: 1, 2, 1)
- Agencies have a double standard for agency actions versus private ones.
- Screen out temporary impacts. (2: 1, 1)
- The Land Use Commission, agencies, and consultants do not follow the law, only past practice. ()
Should an agency accept its own document?
Yes, agencies are responsible and accountable. (19: 6, 2, 11)
- The accepting authority is still accountable after making a determination. ()
- Acceptability is more about process than content.
- Agencies are very aware of a perceived conflict of interest.
- It is unlikely a perceived conflict of interest can be removed entirely.
- Public challenge and judicial review make the process transparent.
- The perception of conflict of interest is too great.
- There is a real conflict of interest. ()
- An agency is not rigorous enough for its own documents.
- The Governor or Mayor accepts EISs; it is within their authority to delegate acceptance to whomever he or she deems appropriate.
The system works well as it is.
Increase the role of OEQC to monitor the process, accept documents, make binding recommendations, or be able to veto determinations. (7: 1, 3, 3)
Adopt NEPA or other States practices. (9: 2, 7)
Should there be further administrative oversight?
No, further oversight is not needed.
- The process will become more onerous and create confusions.
- There is enough transparency and oversight already. ()
- It will create perverse incentives.
- Allow 3rd party review (OEQC, the Auditor’s Office, UH, peer). (6: 3, 3)
- Adopt a model similar to California or NEPA. ()
- Have a checklist to consult with other agencies beyond the comment/response process.
- OEQC doesn’t have enough expertise to review all agencies’ documents. (6: 4, 2)
- 3rd parties do not have the expertise and will meddle with agency missions. ()
- One agency shouldn’t have too much power or it becomes political.
- Involve more partnerships between public, private, and community stakeholders. (2)