The November 23 deadline for comments on the proposed EPA cleanup for the upper Coeur d’Alene basin is fast approaching, and we received the following email from EPA regarding how comments are being handled:
Many people are wondering how EPA is handling public comments on the Proposed Cleanup Plan for the Upper Basin, and when they might hear something back. Here are answers those questions.
The public comment period on EPA’s Proposed Cleanup Plan closes November 23. EPA has received hundreds of comments. It will take time for the agency to consider and respond to all of them. EPA takes each comment seriously. The agency is aware that the cleanup is complex, and is a topic which is deeply important to local citizens. EPA has received comments both in favor of and against the plan. EPA will consider changes to the proposed cleanup plan in response to public input.
All comments are being entered into an electronic database. Comments will be logged individually and in categories. This process ensures that each comment is accounted for and helps with an orderly, thorough response. The agency will prepare a document called a “Response to Comments.” It will include both a response to each comment and a summary response to each issue.
The Response to Comments will be issued to the public at the same time as the ROD (Record of Decision) Amendment, sometime in 2011. The ROD Amendment is the final decision document. It will describe the selected cleanup alternative. The public will be able to request a hard copy of these documents and find them at select local libraries and on EPA’s website.
We also noted today that Gov. Butch Otter submitted his comments on the plan. Otter, evidently, is supporting a much more limited cleanup, with a defined endpoint, coincidentally similar to Hecla Mining’s proposal.
Like Gov. Otter, we too wish that the work wouldn’t go on forever. But Otter’s solution almost guarantees that it will. Doing it his way — only cleaning up part of the basin and not treating clearly-contaminated water — means that water quality standards will never be met, and the cleanup will go on and on and on. In fact, in his letter, Otter makes an ironic request to EPA to “commit to cash flow and management of the settlement funds” to ensure funds are available “well into the future.”
Also, we think Gov. Otter should be a bit more honest about rhetoric in his letter about how EPA will “wildly spend public resources” and how it doesn’t “live within the people’s means.” This cleanup is funded primarily with trust funds from the polluters that made the mess in the first place, not taxpayers. His grandstanding is not helpful.
There is still time to send your comments. (Idaho Conservation League has made it super-easy to do so from their website.) EPA needs to hear voices calling for a comprehensive, complete, permanent cleanup. Not the incomplete option proposed by the Governor.