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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
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Department of Environmental Quality
 
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Department of Environmental Quality
 
chapter
Public Participation Guidelines [9 VAC 15 ‑ 11]
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8/18/21  11:23 pm
Commenter: Natalie Pien

Improve Public Notification
 

Hello.  My name is Natalie Pien.  I am a retired public-school teacher from Leesburg, VA.  I was a middle school science teacher and sponsored an Ecology Club for students to make personal connections to Nature and appreciate Virginia’s natural resources.  Thankfully, for my students in Loudoun County, Virginia has the Department of Environmental, DEQ.  DEQ’s Quality Mission, Vision, and Values statements reflect a commitment to protect & enhance Virginia’s environment as well as promote the health and well-being of all Virginians.  Regrettably, for less affluent, rural, and often communities of color, the DEQ fell short and commissioned an environmental justice report conducted by SKEO, https://www.deq.virginia.gov/home/showdocument?id=8624.  It includes four action items related to public engagement: 

5. Accessible Information: Develop tools to provide more transparent, accessible and real-time environmental information to the public. 

6. Relationship Building: Invest in proactively building productive relationships with environmental justice and other adversely impacted communities. 

7. Community Engagement: Proactively and authentically engage communities on issues and decision-making that could potentially affect their health and quality of life. 

8. Environmental Justice Community Capacity: Build the capacity of environmental justice communities to participate meaningfully in environmental decision-making. 

Adopt these recommendations.

 

In addition to the SKEO report, I endorse the technical advocacy letters from Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Protect Our Water Heritage Rights, Sierra Club, and Appalachian Voices. 

 

Finally, I would like to make my own, simple recommendations.  Public notification could be improved if:

  1. Prior to submitting a project to DEQ, require the applicant to notify, by mail, people living within a 3-mile radius (or an alternate distance) of the project site and provide a simple description of the project detailing:
    1. What is proposed
    2. Where it is located & site identified with signage
    3. Why it is proposed
    4. When will it start
    5. How will it be constructed
  2. Post project intentions in public places like libraries, grocery stores, post office.
  3. Hold hybrid public information session in the impacted community and provide child care.
  4. Change your lens from guiding applicants through the permitting or regulatory process to serving Virginians and protecting Virginia’s natural resources.

 

Thank you for the opportunity to share my comments with you. 

Sincerely,

 

Natalie Pien

20644 Gleedsville Rd

Leesburg, VA 20175

natcpien1@gmail.com

 

CommentID: 99783