Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Environmental Quality
State Water Control Board
Public Participation Guidelines [9 VAC 25 ‑ 11]
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8/20/21  11:41 am
Commenter: Mary Finley-Brook

The public participation process is broken

First, all Water Board members must be training in Environmental Justice and how to receive and process comments to avoid violating rights and breaking the law.

Second, the public participation process is broken. I am very concerned about the unresponsiveness of DEQ to public comments. The agency seems to have made its mind up about permits prior to opening the public comment period. The DEQ staff responses to comments seem to be merely justifications for not considering the input from the public.

My solution would be to for there to be a truly independent review of any permitting cases elevated to the Air Board, Water Board, or Waste Board. DEQ cannot and should not be filtering and screening public information for these citizen bodies. There is too much control by the regulatory agency. If cases are elevated to a citizen board, please create a process when board members hear from the applicant, regulator and public in a fair way without DEQ having an upper hand to privilege or bias information.  

Our citizen boards need to regain independence and to carry out all roles granted to them in their statues. DEQ and Commonwealth attorneys often suggest Board Members do not have authority to make decisions when in fact they do.

We need to uphold the 2020 EJ Act.


CommentID: 99813