07 February 2007

Three Meetings and a Funeral

Sunday, Earth Week had its third meeting of the year, and as excited as I am about our line-up of activities, I surely wish ya'll would plan some activities for mid-week. We don't so much have an Earth Week as we have 2 overbooked Earth Weekends with time off for napping in between.

Monday, sometime after everyone said his piece on traffic issues, City Council approved the special use permit so that Compass, the homeless day center, can move into its new home. Congratulations, Compass!

Tuesday, the Rivanna Conservation Society had its board meeting, during which I drank a pot of coffee while we discussed improvements to Schier Natural Area, finding sponsors for the 2007 Rivanna River Days Calendar Brochure (click if you would like to list a river event or become a partner), the best procedure for sharing information from our own proprietorial research with the new Chville Commission on Environmental Sustainability (being both Advocacy chair for RCS and a Commission member, I shook hands with my inner schizophrenic for 20 minutes of discourse), and our Third Thursdays Brown Bag Lunch series on watershed issues (and about 2 dozen other topics).

Then I came home and looked up the results of today's roll call vote in both chambers on HB3113 and SB1403. Both passed. I'm appalled at the short-sightedness of the decision to merge all 3 citizen review boards into 1 entity. It is impossible to find 11 people to sit on the new "Environmental Quality Board" who are expert in all three media: Waste Management, Water Control, and Air Pollution. The new board will not be able to provide the same level of specialized knowledge, attention to detail, and competency that the individual boards had. Furthermore, by taking the permitting authority out of the board and handing it to DEQ, the General Assembly has completely cut the public out of the process. Is anyone else out there feeling that closed government love yet? Doesn't seem like anyone outside the enviro community cares, even though this bill--soon to be law--will effect municipal-level voices in land use, industry, and economic development as well as natural resources.

So, I'm hoping that enough people out there read this and call their state representatives to demand that the House bill's "re-enactment clause" stay in the final, reconciled version of the bill. If the Senate's version ends up on Gov. Kaine's desk, I'll be planning a funeral (or at least a memorium) for the last bastion of public voice in the regulatory process. Let me know if you'd like to come. Rum and tequila will be required; black armbands will be optional.

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