Shaleshock.org has a post on an upcoming (September 9) “public meeting” addressing gas production in Tompkins County, New York.  In the post it is implied that the project will go “through the SEQR process” (the State Environmental Quality Review Act) and that “it is possible the project could be approved without an environmental impact statement.”

One thing I remember from my old course in environmental law:  under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), if federal money is involved in a project, then an Environmental Impact Statement must be performed.

So, it seems very important to investigate very thoroughly whether any federal funds are involved here, in any way whatsoever, directly or indirectly.  Any stimulus funds, for example?  Any equipment or studies paid for by the federal government?  Money for leases? (And don’t just ask.  Dig!  Ask for documents confirming any statements about such matters.  Ask for copies of any and all reports and studies; get things in writing or from the internet, study them, and do cross-referencing.) 

If there are federal fund involved, then I’d want to drill further down (pardon the pun) into the applicable laws and regulations (both federal and state) to double check whether a case can be made that a formal EIS should be performed here, and then if it is feasible, make that case in writing in a signed letter to all parties involved in overseeing these matters.

(Caveat:  I’m not a lawyer.  But suffice it to say for the present that with the internet and computers, combing the laws and regulations and checking whether and how they connect to a particular issue is something that ordinary, interested citizens can do, but it can take a lot of time.  At some point(s), it can help to consult with and/or involve attorneys, but a lot can be accomplished without them, in my opinion, depending upon what is learned, the directions people choose to follow, and how much money they have.)


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