Saturday, November 21, 2009

Training held on DEIS review techniques

Training held on DEIS review techniques

Posted: Nov 21, 2009 1:27 PM
Updated: Nov 21, 2009 6:47 PM
by Heather Hauswirth

The Guam Environmental Protection Agency held a four-day training course this past week for various GovGuam agency personnel. The event was geared towards teaching participants the many practical skills needed to be a more effective and critical reviewer of the Joint Guam Program Office's Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The daunting prospect of having to review ten volumes of text that spans 11,000 pages has GovGuam agencies and nearly everyone on island all worked up. EPA Administrator Lorilee Crisostomo says the USEPA's workshop on how to review an EIS was open to a select number of agencies.

"This is a big island build up, not just inside the fence so we want them to know how to review an EIS document too because we don't want anyone to be intimidated with how it's set up and how many pages we are going to get," she said.

The Guam EPA used its federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act grant funds to hire USEPA instructors like Lance Richman and David Schaller, who focused the course on teaching participants about the methodology of the process. "One of the parts of the environmental impact assessment process is evaluating alternatives and there has been concern about which alternatives were chosen, which ones are being evaluated and about mitigation, efforts to reduce or avoid impacts that could occur from the projects that are underway," Crisostomo said.

The course focused on ensuring participants would be able to derive and reason more critically while reviewing the EIS. Assistant General Manager of Compliance and Safety at the Guam Waterworks Authority, Paul Kemp said, "We are getting a good systematic view of how to go about it and giving us a roadmap of how to execute the steps necessary to do a good job."

Course principles were designed around international frameworks set for environmental impact assessments. Richman emphasized the importance of asking critical questions, noting, "The important thing is to review the document, the integrity of the document, make sure there are commitments in the document, there are mitigation efforts underway, there are schedules and there is money for mitigation efforts, make certain its not just words, that there are actual dollars, there are actual schedules and actual technical experts to support the projects and mitigations proposed."

But it's not light reading - anyone who takes a stab is advised to reach out to those who may have more expertise than them to better understand portions that might be confusing. "It would be really helpful to have an interdisciplinary, inter-skill approach to looking at it, so if you really aren't familiar with an aspect of the document, find somebody who is and ask them about it," said Crisostomo.

And after completion of this training course, the individual participants will be able to teach the skills they learned and transfer it to how to review any EIS document to teach individuals and Gov Guam agencies as well as other individuals who would just like a chance to review this massive EIS document.

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