Pub­lic com­ment sought on draft EIS rule changes

The Maui News - - TODAY’S PEOPLE - The Maui News

Pub­lic com­ments are sought on the State En­vi­ron­men­tal Coun­cil’s pre­lim­i­nary draft of revised ad­min­is­tra­tive rules for the prepa­ra­tion of en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact state­ments.

The draft aims to clar­ify: ≤ Roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties at var­i­ous stages of the EIS process.

≤ Sub­mit­tals and dead­lines us­ing elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

≤ When an ex­emp­tion is ap­pro­pri­ate and the role of ex­emp­tion lists.

≤ How to pro­ceed to di­rectly pre­par­ing an EIS.

≤ How to do pro­gram­matic and sup­ple­men­tal EISs.

≤ How to re­spond to com­ments.

≤ How to do com­bined fed­eral and state EISs.

The ad­min­is­tra­tive rules were last up­dated in 1996, al­though an ex­emp­tion for ac­quir­ing land for af­ford­able hous­ing was added in 2007.

“This is a ma­jor mile­stone for us,” said Joseph Sha­cat, the coun­cil’s chair­man. “The En­vi­ron­men­tal Coun­cil ini­ti­ated the process of re­vis­ing the rules in 2012, but the vol­un­teer board lacked the sup­port and re­sources nec­es­sary to com­plete the ef­fort at that time . . . . This pre­lim­i­nary draft will pro­vide a use­ful start­ing point for us as a coun­cil to en­gage agen­cies and the pub­lic. I’m re­ally proud of the ef­fort my col­leagues put into making this first draft, and I’m look­ing for­ward to get­ting the pub­lic’s feed­back and pro­ceed­ing to the next step.”

The En­vi­ron­men­tal Coun­cil makes rules for pre­par­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact state­ments un­der Hawaii Revised Statutes Chap­ter 343.

EIS rules have been used to de­lay or stop pro­posed de­vel­op­ments.

The EIS process is de­tailed in Hawaii Ad­min­is­tra­tive Rules Chap­ter 11-200. The current rules are avail­able on the Of­fice of En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity Con­trol website at health.hawaii.gov/oeqc, and the draft lan­guage can be down­loaded di­rectly from oeqc2.doh.hawaii.gov/ Laws/2017-07-27-Re­portPre­lim-Rules-Re­vi­sion­sDraft.pdf.

“This is the start of a con­ver­sa­tion,” said Scott Glenn, di­rec­tor of the OEQC and vice chair­man of the coun­cil. “We are fo­cused on mod­ern­iz­ing th­ese 20-year-old rules and making them clearer so peo­ple who par­tic­i­pate in the EIS process have a bet­ter sense of their roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.”

Fol­low­ing the re­lease of the pre­lim­i­nary draft rules, the coun­cil will re­fine changes be­fore con­duct­ing for­mal pub­lic hear­ings.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the En­vi­ron­men­tal Coun­cil, go to health.hawaii.gov/oeqc/envi ron­men­tal-coun­cil/.

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