Tag Archives: Public Comment

10/20/2011 Navajo Times: Delegates say lawyer went too far with reform bill

10/20/2011 Navajo Times: Delegates say lawyer went too far with reform bill by Marlley Shebala: Should the people vote on proposed changes to the Navajo Nation Government Development Commission Act? The Navajo Nation Council’s attorney, Edward McCool, says yes. But the chairman and vice chairman of the Council’s Subcommittee on Government Reform say no. The disagreement between McCool and the subcommittee unfolded when Chairman Leonard Tsosie and Vice Chairperson Jonathan Nez saw that McCool had written the subcommittee’s proposal to change the commission as a voter referendum rather than an amendment to the act. Then he posted the referendum legislation on the Council’s Web site for public comment on Oct. 6.

Tsosie and Nez said in separate interviews this week that they believe McCool overstepped his authority, and that the subcommittee is expected to meet Monday, Oct. 24, at 1 p.m. in the Council chamber to discuss his actions.

Both delegates emphasized that the subcommittee had nothing to do with McCool’s decision to make their bill a request to the Council for a referendum.

“His clients tell him to do one thing and he does the opposite,” Tsosie fumed. “He’s just making our life harder.”

McCool said Tuesday that he was asked to draft legislation and he did that.

On Sept. 20, McCool sent a memo to Nez questioning the subcommittee’s plan to amend the law and reduce the commission from 12 members to five, eliminating representation for several groups in favor of putting more delegates on the panel.

McCool stated in his memo that the Navajo Nation Supreme Court noted the “significance” of the commission and its office in a July 2010 ruling: “Of all the entities established by the Title II Amendments, the Commission on Government Development and the Office of Navajo Government Development are the sole entities established according to the wishes of the people expressed through the coordinator of the Government Reform Project.”

Power to the people

McCool also quoted the ruling’s warning for the Council not to usurp the right of the people to determine their preferred form of government, which the commission was set up to determine.

The high court stated that “the power over the structure of the Navajo government is ultimately in the hands of the people and (the Council) will look to the people to guide it” and “that the power of the people to participate in their democracy and determine their form of government is a reserved, inherent and fundamental right expressed in Title I of our Dine Fundamental Law and the Navajo Bill of Rights,” McCool quoted in his memo.

Tsosie said the subcommittee already had a discussion with McCool about whether the Supreme Court’s decision meant the subcommittee’s amendments to the commission had to go before the people as a ballot referendum.

“We didn’t ask for (referendum) language,” Nez said Tuesday. “The chief legislative counsel has his own interpretation of the Supreme Court decision. We, as delegates, have our own interpretation. We’re following the Supreme Court order.”

10/12/2011 Department of Commerce Releases Draft Environmental Justice Strategy for Public Comment

Department of Commerce Releases Draft Environmental Justice Strategy for Public Comment: The Department of Commerce announces the release of its draft Environmental Justice Strategy.  On August 4, 2011, the Department of Commerce and other Federal agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop or revise existing environmental justice (EJ) strategies to protect minority and low-income populations from experiencing disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects caused by an agency’s programs, policies, and activities.

In compliance with this commitment, the Department of Commerce is releasing for public comment a draft EJ Strategy, which will completely replace the Department’s original EJ Strategy produced in 1995 in response to Executive Order 12898 section 1-103.  Through October 31, 2011, the Department welcomes any comments or feedback on this draft EJ Strategy.

In addition, the Department is soliciting feedback on the following specific topics:

  • Are there additional Departmental programs, policies, or activities that should be included in the EJ Strategy in addition to those already identified?
  • What should the Department’s environmental justice goals and objectives be in relation to providing and supporting climate science, services and adaptation?

Department of Commerce draft Environmental Justice Strategy:  http://open.commerce.gov/news/2011/09/30/department-commerce-draft-environmental-justice-strategy

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7/28/2011 News Hawk: Southern California Water Leaders Challenged To Help Create a Groundwater Storage Plan

Southern California Water Leaders Challenged To Help Create a Groundwater Storage Plan By Mike Adams on Jul 28 2011 “We want to know what you want so the plan is done in the best interests of the end user, the water consumer.” Those were the words of Central Basin Municipal Water District General Manager Art Aguilar to a packed room of water industry, community and city leaders about the Central Basin Groundwater Storage Plan that Central Basin is preparing this year. The plan will address the ecological and financial impact of managing the groundwater basin that extends approximately 270 square miles within the Los Angeles coastal plain and is the primary source of water for more than 2.5 million residents in the region.

In Southern California, water management is a huge issue. About half of the water comes from the area and is stored underground. The rest is imported from the Colorado River and Northern California or is recycled water that is used for specific uses, like irrigating golf courses. Protecting the vital public resource of water is a very important responsibility and it’s a responsibility that Central Basin says is theirs.

“We have a statutory right and a civic obligation to create this plan with input from all our partners. We have been emphatic in saying give us the input and we’ll develop the plan from that input,” Aguilar stated.

Many questions from the audience were about specific elements of the plan, and Central Basin officials repeated Aguilar’s theme. The specific elements need to be developed with the stakeholders, including those attending today’s meeting.

“We will continue to have these meetings out in the public where everyone can participate. We have seen the negative effectives of what backroom deals and secrecy can do to a process like this, and we are absolutely committed to keeping this process transparent,” Aguilar told Newshawks Review after the meeting.

The meeting today was scheduled after Central Basin filed what is called a Notice of Preparation for a Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR) about the Groundwater Management plan. The NOP has been revised to include a longer project description; a change that Central Basin staff says was made in response to stakeholder feedback received in February. Central Basin’s plan is the first of its kind that will have an EIR of the Central Groundwater Basin, and as such will be the first plan to have an environmental analysis the basin.

The management of groundwater storage is a critical element in assuring that there is a future reliability of drinkable water to the 2.5 million residents Central Basin serves.

The Plan’s objectives are to protect the supply, maximize storage within the Basin, to protect local decision-making authority and local water rights as well as improving the reliability of supply during drought or emergencies.

One audience member asked why Central Basin was preparing a plan and the Southern California Water Replenishment District had already submitted a plan, which was rejected in Los Angeles courts.

Aguilar repeated that Central Basin has the statutory authority to create a storage plan and manage groundwater, and that it intends to do just that.

The current public comment period for the Program Environmental Impact Report will last until August 20th. Central Basin then said it will publish the draft report which will be reviewed by the public for 45 days and will include public meetings as part of that review process.

Central Basin said it expects the final report will be ready by December at which time it will hold public hearing with an anticipated approval of the Plan set for the first quarter of 2012.

“We have been and will continue to conduct an inclusive process where all of our stakeholders will be able to participate. The only way that the process will not be inclusive is if people choose not to participate,” Aguilar told the group.

Central Basin Water Resources Manager David Hill, who moderated today’s meeting, reminded the water managers and city officials of the importance of creating a plan that works for the residents of the region.

“To keep our region economically viable we have to do an even better job of conserving and having access to water. The Groundwater Storage Plan will address those issues in a very important and comprehensive way,” he said.

7/13/2011 US EPA Opens Public Comment on Secondary Air Standards for Nitrogen and Sulfur Oxides: Agency announces pilot field study on environmental impact

7/13/2011 US EPA CONTACT: Enesta Jones Jones.enesta@epa.gov 202-564-7873 202-564-4355 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: EPA Opens Public Comment on Secondary Air Standards for Nitrogen and Sulfur Oxides: Agency announces pilot field study on environmental impacts: WASHINGTON – After a careful review of the best available science, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing secondary air quality standards to protect the environment from nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx). Today’s proposal builds on EPA efforts already underway to reduce NOx and SOx emissions. EPA has made significant progress in developing a multi-pollutant standard that would protect vulnerable ecosystems, including streams and lakes. To ensure any updated standard is effective, EPA is planning to conduct a field pilot program to collect and analyze additional data and information.

In the meantime, EPA is proposing to set an additional secondary standard for each pollutant. The new standards would be identical to the public health standards that the agency strengthened last year. These standards reduce the amount of NOx and SOx in the air and the harmful effects that the pollutants have on sensitive lakes and streams. EPA is also proposing to retain the existing secondary standards for each pollutant.

EPA is already taking a number of steps to reduce NOx and SOx emissions, including the recently announced Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. This new rule will cut millions of tons of these pollutants from power plants each year.

Nitrogen oxides are emitted from an array of sources, including vehicles, power plants, off-road equipment, and agricultural sources. Sulfur oxides are emitted from fossil fuel combustion by power plants, large industries, and mobile sources, and from some industrial processes.

EPA will accept comments for 60 days after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register and will issue a final rule by March 2012.

More information: http://www.epa.gov/air/nitrogenoxides/actions.html

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View all news releases related to air issues

5/5/2011 Public News Service: Arizonans Call for Canyon Mining Moratorium

Public News Service: Arizonans Call for Canyon Mining Moratorium PHOENIX, Ariz. – Hundreds of thousands of Americans, including 36 Arizona groups, have weighed in to support a federal proposal for a 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims on 1 million acres near Grand Canyon National Park. A public comment period has just ended. The Obama administration is expected to decide the issue in the next few weeks. Lynn Hamilton is the executive director of Grand Canyon River Guides, a nonprofit group of professional river guides and individuals who love the Grand Canyon. She warns that runoff from existing uranium mines has already polluted several rivers, creeks and springs within the national park. “It’s really alarming for people to feel like the areas that they’re visiting and recreating in, which they consider to be wilderness areas, are tainted in this way.”

Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva and 62 other members of Congress have sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar urging him to approve the proposed 20-year moratorium. Several local governments and Native American tribal governments have also endorsed the proposed mining ban. The industry maintains that modern mining techniques prevent environmental damage.

Hamilton says Native Americans living in northern Arizona have been especially hard-hit by water pollution resulting from uranium mining.

“It’s really a deadly history. Many Native Americans have died from drinking tainted water or from using that water to sustain their livestock and crops when it’s contaminated.”

Hamilton also expresses concern about the potential effect on tourism from uranium mining claims that are “right on the doorstep” of the Grand Canyon.

“This is an area that draws 5 million visitors each year. It contributes almost $700 million annually to the regional economy.”

Grand Canyon tourism supports some 12,000 full-time jobs, she adds.

4/27/2011 US EPA Water News Release (HQ): Obama Administration Affirms Comprehensive Commitment to Clean Water

Please submit comments. The draft guidance from U.S. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is open for 60 days of public comment, will protect waters that many communities depend upon for drinking, swimming, and fishing, and provide clearer, more predictable guidelines for determining which water bodies are protected from pollution under the Clean Water Act. 4/27/2011 US EPA Water News Release (HQ): Obama Administration Affirms Comprehensive Commitment to Clean Water CONTACTS: (CEQ) Taryn Tuss, 202-456-6998 (EPA) 202-564-6794; press@epa.gov (USDA) 202-720-4623 (DOI) Kendra Barkoff, 202-208-6416 (DOA) Moira Kelley, 703-614-3992 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Obama Administration Affirms Comprehensive Commitment to Clean Water WASHINGTON – Recognizing the importance of clean water and healthy watersheds to our economy, environment and communities, the Obama administration released a national clean water framework today that showcases its comprehensive commitment to protecting the health of America’s waters. The framework emphasizes the importance of partnerships and coordination with states, local communities, stakeholders and the public to protect public health and water quality, and promote the nation’s energy and economic security.

For nearly 40 years, the Clean Water Act, along with other important federal measures, has been a cornerstone of our effort to ensure that Americans have clean and healthy waters. The administration’s framework outlines a series of actions underway and planned across federal agencies to ensure the integrity of the waters Americans rely on every day for drinking, swimming, and fishing, and that support farming, recreation, tourism and economic growth. It includes draft federal guidance to clarify which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act nationwide; innovative partnerships and programs to improve water quality and water efficiency; and initiatives to revitalize communities and economies by restoring rivers and critical watersheds.

“Clean water and healthy waterways are vital to the health and vibrancy of our communities and the strength of our economy,” said Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “Working with our partners across communities, governments and sectors, we are taking comprehensive action to ensure Americans have the clean and healthy waters they need and deserve.”

”The steps we’re outlining today will be instrumental to protecting the waters of the United States, and ensuring that the vital natural resources our communities depend on for their health and their economy are safeguarded for generations to come,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “After four decades of progress on clean water, there is still work to be done to address unfinished business and tackle new threats to our waters. American families and businesses are counting on us to maintain and improve the rivers, lakes, streams and other waters that support thousands of communities and millions of jobs across the country.”

“Healthy rivers and clean waters are fundamental to our economy, our health, and our way of life,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “With growing pressures on our natural systems, we must work to secure cleaner, safer, and more reliable water supplies for our communities.”

“As our nation’s foremost conservationists, farmers, ranchers and forest owners have a values system rooted in rural America that recognizes we cannot continue to take from the land without giving something back,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “At USDA, we are working with farmers, ranchers and forest owners to conserve land, plant stream buffers for cleaner water, and install other conservation practices. We also will continue to invest in rural water and community facility projects that help small towns ensure their citizens have access to safe and reliable drinking water. The draft Clean Water Act guidance released today reflects USDA’s work with our federal partners by maintaining existing exemptions for ongoing agricultural and forestry activities, thereby providing farmers, ranchers and forest landowners with certainty that current agricultural and forestry activities can continue.”

“The Army is very proud of our ecosystem restoration efforts across the nation,” said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy. “The proposed joint EPA and Army guidance will clarify Clean Water Act jurisdiction and help the Corps and its partner agencies protect important aquatic resources and watersheds that communities rely on for their quality of life and essential services.”

Clean water provides critical health, economic and livability benefits to American communities. Since 1972, the Clean Water Act has kept billions of pounds of pollution out of American waters, doubling the number of waters that meet safety standards for swimming and fishing. Despite the dramatic progress in restoring the health of the nation’s waters, an estimated one-third of American waters still do not meet the swimmable and fishable standards of the Clean Water Act. Additionally, new pollution and development challenges threaten to erode our gains, and demand innovative and strong action in partnership with federal agencies, states, and the public to ensure clean and healthy water for American families, businesses, and communities.

The Obama administration is safeguarding clean water by: Promoting Innovative Partnerships. Federal agencies are partnering with states, tribes, local governments and diverse stakeholders on innovative approaches to restore urban waters, promote sustainable water supplies, and develop new incentives for farmers to protect clean water.

Enhancing Communities and Economies by Restoring Important Water Bodies: The Obama administration is dedicating unprecedented attention to restoring iconic places like the Chesapeake Bay, California Bay-Delta, Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico and Everglades, investing in action and helping states, local governments and stakeholders find pollution control solutions that are tailored to their specific needs.

Innovating for More Water Efficient Communities: The administration is working with policymakers, consumers, farmers and businesses to save water – and save money – through 21st century water management policies and technology.

Ensuring Clean Water to Protect Public Health: The Obama administration is aggressively pursuing new ways to protect public health by reducing contaminants in Americans’ drinking water. We are updating drinking water standards, protecting drinking water sources, modernizing the tools available to communities to meet their clean water requirements, and providing affordable clean water services in rural communities.

Enhancing Use and Enjoyment of our Waters: The administration is promoting stewardship of America’s waters through innovative programs and partnerships. These efforts include expanding access to waterways for recreation, protecting rural landscapes, and promoting public access to private lands for hunting, fishing and other recreational activities.

Updating the Nation’s Water Policies: The administration is strengthening protection of America’s waters and American communities. We are modernizing water resources guidelines, and updating federal guidance on where the Clean Water Act applies nationwide. The draft guidance will protect waters that many communities depend upon for drinking, swimming, and fishing, and provide clearer, more predictable guidelines for determining which water bodies are protected from pollution under the Clean Water Act. The guidance is open for 60 days of public comment to all allow all stakeholders to provide input and feedback before it is finalized.

Supporting Science to Solve Water Problems: The administration is using the latest science and research to improve water policies and programs and identify and address emerging pollution challenges.

More information and to read the Obama administration’s clean water framework: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/clean-water

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