Question: Question: What challenges can community members expect during an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Process and open comment period?

michelleiL is asking a question about law-and-policy
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by michelleiL | May 23, 2022 15:43 | #30874

One of the most crucial times to share community science findings and stories about the environmental, social, and health impacts of proposed toxic industries is the open comment period during an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process.

As both the Game Over Formosa and Minnesota Land and Wild Rice fellowship teams continue their research and advocacy efforts in their respective communities that includes preparing for an open comment period, I am wondering what challenges can be expected during this process?


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Hey team - Thought it might be helpful to outline best practices for creating comments that address various concerns.

  1. Comments that simply reflect an opinion about the project will not be addressed. For example, a comment that states, “I don’t like the project,” or “ I oppose the entire high speed rail line on principle” typically result simply in a response of “Comment Noted.”

  2. To have a significant impact on the EIS process, comments must point out errors, inconsistencies, omissions of data or analyses, conclusions not based on evidence, or failures to provide discussion required by CEQA.

  3. The potentially feasible alternatives must be discussed in “meaningful detail,” and provide sufficient “information to the public to enable it to understand, evaluate, and respond” to the agency’s conclusions. The discussion should “contain facts and analysis, not just the agency’s bare conclusions or opinions.”

  4. It is perfectly OK to raise an issue under the EIS with no support. The burden of proof is on the Authority/Gov – not you/community groups. That said, if you have evidence or facts – even better. Please don’t let your “lack of expertise” prevent you from trying to comment on the environmental impact concerns you have. With that in mind, here are a few tips:

If the impact is potentially significant, are there mitigations (ways to reduce the severity of the impact) included in the document? Will they reduce the impact to a less than significant level? For example, if train noise is an issue, a noise barrier wall that reduces the noise below a certain level is considered to be an effective mitigation measure.

Impacts must be reduced to the extent feasible. All mitigations must be feasible and enforceable. If a potential significant impact has not been adequately identified; or if no mitigation has been proposed for a potentially significant impact; or if the mitigation proposed doesn’t appear to be sufficient or appropriate, then:

  1. Identify the specific impact in question;
  2. Explain why you believe the impact would occur;
  3. Explain why you believe the effect would be significant; and, if applicable,
  4. Explain what additional mitigation measure(s) or changes in proposed mitigations or to the project you would recommend.
  5. Explain why you would recommend any changes and support your recommendations.

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