In my personal experience, meetings held designed to be open for "public participation" are rarely accessible to those communities in which the decisions made at said meetings will affect the most.
Most recently, the meeting about the Lambert Compressor Station was scheduled to be held in the middle of the work day, in Richmond, 3 hours south of the community in which it would most affect. This is not an acceptable format for public participation nor is it remotely accessible for those it claims to be.
Below are some changes I would like to see in order to improve accessibility to those groups most often affected by environmental degradation and development.
Regarding the notification list:
- DEQ should maintain a list of people and organizations in EJ communities that should be notified when regulatory changes are proposed. The EJ office could maintain that list.
- To determine who is an EJ community use the definition from the EJ act 2020.
Regarding the public hearings on regulations:
-The notices for public hearing should be posted on the town hall and commonwealth calendar 15 days prior instead of 7 as is right now
Regarding the public comments:
- A minimum of 60 calendar days to respond following the publication of a notice of periodic review instead of the 21 days. This will allow community members to be informed and prepare comments.
- As much as possible, meetings should be held with options to participate both in person and virtually.
-Public notices and technical materials should be provided or available upon request in multiple languages.
-Meetings should be held at times that are accessible to those most affected by the decisions being mad. 9-5 meetings exclude the most vulnerable communities that must provide for their families during these hours.