Tell PA DEP by 5 PM Today: Don’t Shut the Public Out!
Today at 5 pm is the deadline for telling PA DEP not to shut the public out from their decisions about permits for fracking facilities that pollute the air.
Clean Air Council sent out this reminder today:
If you haven’t already, please take a moment right now to send in a comment on DEP’s proposed changes to the policy on public participation in the permitting process. Thanks.
Comments are due on TODAY: Tuesday August 27th by 5PM.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) is currently revising a policy on how the public will be allowed to participate in the permitting of polluting facilities. Many of these policies and procedures, for instance, will directly impact how residents living near polluted facilities will be able to participate in decisions about shale gas infrastructure in Pennsylvania. This is your chance to tell PA DEP what you think about their proposed policy changes and make your own suggestions.
Click the link below to automatically send your comment
Customize your comment!
Here is how Protecting Our Waters customized our comment. The first three paragraphs are mine; the rest is as written by Clean Air Council. This is just one example — you can keep it simple! Even if you have just a minute, please write one or two sentences to customize your comment. Thanks!
To Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection:
As you know, people in Pennslylvania are going to the emergency room with respiratory distress, as well as suffering from burning eyes and throats, headaches, fatigue, and other symptoms due to air pollution from compressor stations, flares, separators, dehydrators and other shale gas drilling, fracturing, processing and distribution facilities.
These people are our friends and neighbors. Some of them have been displaced due to these impacts. PA DEP is the only entity which could potentially stop more such pain and suffering, more such displacement, and protect the environment. But instead of slowing down to protect human health and the environment — which is PA DEP’s mission– the GP5 permit is being used to prevent and limit public participation. This is unacceptable.
PA DEP must change the public participation process to maximize meaningful public input. Why? Because air and water matter, and public health matters. If you shut people out of the process, or make their participation meaningless, public anger and despair will escalate along with the intense air pollution and other impacts close by the facilities.
Below is the un-customized letter from Clean Air Council, spelling out the problems and solutions:
Meaningful public input is crucial when the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) makes decisions about permits, especially on issues as contentious as shale gas. Please consider the following recommendations in improving the Policy on Public Participation in the Permit Review Process:
My biggest concern is that the public participation policy will be almost useless for most shale gas facilities that are now permitted because of the stream-lined General Permit 5 (GP-5), which doesn’t allow for public comment and public hearings. Since the great majority of new facilities in Pennsylvania are part of the oil and gas industry and falls under GP-5, this is extremely relevant. I urge PA DEP to change the participation policy to allow for meaningful public participation in polluting facilities like compressor stations that are now being quickly permitted with the GP-5, often in close proximity to each other.
Documents with PA DEP’s analysis of a permit application are often not available prior to a comment deadline and this prohibits the public from having meaningful input on PA DEP’s analysis and decision-making. The Department should allow for two separate comment periods so the public has the opportunity to comment on a company’s application and DEP’s analysis of the application. I’m concerned about PA DEP’s proposed timing of comment periods and public hearings. Public hearings should not occur during the initial 30-day comment period, but should occur only after a comment period is over (if substantial interest has been shown).
I urge PA DEP to put all permit applications, technical review documents, and any other associated documents or maps online for free public access. It is extremely difficult to obtain files from regional offices in enough time to allow for well-informed comments.
I support the idea of webinars for educational purposes, but urge the Department to never substitute a webinar for a public meeting or public hearing. Not all residents interested in participating in the permitting process can attend online webinars could be excluded from the process.
Thank you for considering my comments. Please keep me informed about any decisions related to the Policy on Public Participation in the Permit Review Process.