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March 24, 2011 - Jessica Collier
I mention the DEC in one of the stories I wrote for today’s paper several times. It’s important to note that DEC is a party to the hearing, but the agency has decided not to participate by putting on any expert witnesses, participating in cross-examination, or even sending anyone to view the hearing past the first session on Tuesday.
I talked to Scott Abrahamson, who was the DEC’s rep Tuesday in Tupper Lake, and he said the DEC is so pared down by state budget cuts that there’s no one to participate. Chris LaCombe was the DEC’s rep up until he was laid off sometime around December 2011.
But beyond the lack of staffing, DEC doesn’t feel like it’s appropriate for it to participate because it still doesn’t have a complete application for the project for it’s stormwater and wastewater management. LaCombe insisted that many times during the pre-hearing conference in October, and Abrahamson reiterated it to me Tuesday, as did DEC spokeswoman Laurie Severino.
The DEC issued a strongly worded notice of incomplete application to the project just a day or two before the pre-hearing conference, which seemed to throw everyone off a bit at the time. LaCombe suggested a few times that the plans needed drastic improvements before they’d be acceptable.
Kevin Franke said he’s working on the plans, but his focus right now is the hearing. He’s been here every day so far, and he’s the ACR’s main (maybe only? I don’t remember for sure) expert witness, so he’ll be here for most of the rest of it, I’d imagine.
I talked to Michael Foxman a little about it last night, and he said the same thing — that they are working on it when they can, but the focus is the hearing right now.
He said he’s not worried about that application very much. All they need to do is follow the DEC guidelines and they’re all set, he said — there’s no question of proponents and opponents and that sort of thing, as there is with the APA permit. He looks at it as a cut-and-dried issue.
But the one problem is, he said, that a bunch of DEC regulations were change as of I think he said March of this year or last year, and he’s not sure if the changes will apply to the ACR or not, since it’s been in the process for several years now.
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