Yucca Mountain Information Office
P.O. Box 257
Eureka, Nevada 89316
(702) 237-5372 fax (702) 237-5708
May 9, 1996
Carol Borgstrom, Director
RE: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on 10 CFR Part 102 1, DOE NEPA Implementing Procedures
Dear Ms. Borgstrom:
On behalf of Eureka County, Nevada, I am submitting the following comments for the record on the Department of Energy's (DOE) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on 10 CFR Part 102 1, the Department of Energy's (DOE) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Implementing Regulations.
Eureka County is an affected unit of local government under Section 116 of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act as amended, and retains an active interest in participating fully in the decision making process related to the proposed Yucca Mountain project, and activities at the Nevada Test Site.
We have several concerns about the proposal.
1. Despite assurances from the DOE Yucca Mountain Project staff that the affected units of local government would be kept informed by the Department about relevant proposals and activities, to the best of our knowledge, we were not notified about the proposed rule. (For rural local governments, federal register notice is not a functional way to keep rural local governments informed.) We have also been assured by Yucca Mountain project staff that they would share with us in a timely fashion relevant federal register proposals. They did not do so in this case. We appreciate the extension of time, but are frustrated that DOE, which is supposed to be concerned about trust and confidence would do such a poor job of notifying interested parties. In addition, the absence of a formal hearing is also a sign that times are staying the same at DOE. The Department could have used the list of all persons who submitted scoping comments for the Yucca Mountain EIS as one base list of interested parties.
2. Has DOE earned the right to make these changes? The changes propose to provide DOE with more latitude in environmental impact analysis. Of all the federal agencies that have projects that adversely impact the environment, DOE is preeminent. DOE also has a very poor record for environmental responsibility at its sites. Has DOE proven to be a responsible federal agency, one for whom the public can extend the benefit of the doubt? Not yet.
3. We think that the EIS implementation plan should remain an absolute requirement, If the preparation of the plans is too complicated, then do a simpler plan that provides a road map of where the agency intends to go with the EIS. DOE is over complicating the process; the regulation is not at fault. Public knowledge of DOE proposals is hard enough without further limiting public access. The other compelling reason for keeping the EIS implementation plan is that if it is used as a road map, subject to public review, then there is less chance that the EIS will go astray.
4. Regarding the proposal to ease up on the Categorical Exclusions, any relaxing of these requirements is not acceptable for an agency with DOE's mission.
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