Why Public Comment Periods Matter So Much

Public comment processes can seem daunting, inconvenient, and full of challenges to find the notices and information. This is often by design. Public comment on permits and legislative decisions are so powerful, that permittees often wait to submit applications until holidays, submit the minimum amount of public information, and send the required notices to surrounding communities in letters that look like junk mail. State agencies are legally required to take public comments from impacted communities into account in their decision making processes. Here are just a few recent examples of wins we’ve had thanks to the outpouring of public comments from YOU, our members and the communities we support. 


1. Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate Extension– Community members went to every. single. town board and county commissioner meeting along the proposed route, which eventually led to a unanimous resolution to oppose the pipeline in Alamance County. Then, we packed the house at NCDEQ’s hearing for the 401 permit, where it was ultimately denied. TWICE. MVP Southgate has yet to reapply for this critical stream crossing permit. They have released all eminent domain cases in NC. Their FERC Certificate of Public Necessity expires on June 18, 2023. 


2. Sanford’s Wastewater Treatment Plant Hearing– Comments poured in to oppose a weak permit for the City of Sanford’s wastewater permit which had no PFAS limits and minimal monitoring requirements. Our comments resulted in stronger monitoring requirements and stronger requirements for pretreatment programs to address the industrial users. 

Comment letters and public comments at hearings set the basis for any legal action we take to enforce and uphold the Clean Water Act. We need to have impacted members that give comments during that period, and we can only challenge things we have explicitly mentioned in those comments. Our elected officials need to hear YOUR voices!

Posted in From The River: Blog

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