Attorney General Says Army Corps Failed To Do Legally Required Environmental Studies
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today sent a letter informing the Army Corps of Engineers that it has failed to conduct an adequate and appropriate environmental review of the proposed Middletown site for an Army training center and to consider alternative locations, as required by federal law.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today sent a letter informing the Army Corps of Engineers that it has failed to conduct an adequate and appropriate environmental review of the proposed Middletown site for an Army training center and to consider alternative locations, as required by federal law.
Blumenthal says these flaws in the current process raise "legally actionable objections" and that the Corps must "go back to square one."
The letter also asks for copies of any Army Corps environmental studies of the Boardman Road site; a list of all 20 locations considered and documents explaining why other sites were rejected and the legal opinion concluding the facility must be in Middletown. The letter asks for the information and a response by August 19.
"As a matter of both law and public policy, I strongly recommend that alternative sites be considered as soon as possible," Blumenthal wrote in the letter. "This one seems objectionable because of its potential impact on the community and quality of life, as well as legally problematic on environmental grounds. This point is significantly strengthened by the Governor's newly announced plan to scale back the Armed Forces Reserve Center with fewer people, vehicles and building space, requiring significantly less acreage. The site selection process should go back to square one.
"While I strongly support your objective -- providing the most effective modern training facility for our dedicated and able armed forces -- I believe the present site selection process is legally problematic, even objectionable. Unquestionably, there are profoundly significant legal flaws in the selection process to date. Specifically, I am concerned that the Corps has failed to adequately examine alternatives to the selected site or properly evaluate known environmental conditions, as required by federal law.
"The Governor's announcement today that our National Guard is reducing the project's scope means that the process can and should begin anew -- without any pre-selection of the current site. The smaller scope makes selection of another site more feasible. The law makes it mandatory.
"Information provided my staff indicates that the site contains a significant amount of wetlands and other potentially significant environmental resources, as well as a possibly historic 18th century farmhouse. In this situation, a complete comprehensive environmental impact statement is mandatory.
"More importantly, the Corps cannot permissibly at this point designate the Boardman Road site as the preferred site. Such selection is illegally premature, and unauthorized. As the Corps
officials noted, none of the necessary historical, archeological, traffic and wetlands studies have been performed. The Corps' action is both illogical and illegal -- pre-selecting a preferred site without having done even the most minimal of examinations under NEPA ( National Environmental Policy Act ). Furthermore, the Corps fundamentally undermines public confidence in the process -- suggesting that it already has determined that Boardman Road is the best site and that this project will have no significant environmental or sociological impact when the necessary studies have not been started, let alone, completed.
"I am also disturbed that Corps officials have failed to publicly acknowledge that they will follow the mandatory requirements of the Clean Water Act, 33 USC 1351, et seq. Because of the significant areas of wetlands on the site, the Corps clearly needs a permit under section 401 of the Clean Water Act. Section 401 permits are reviewed and issued by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection ( DEP ) and, to date, I understand that no 401 permit application has been filed with the DEP. Without a Section 401 permit, this project cannot go forward.
"These legal flaws and defects would seem to raise legally actionable objections. We have identified others as well. I assure you that I will closely monitor compliance with all legal requirements, including NEPA and the Clean Water Act for this project. In particular, I will examine the environmental assessment and environmental impact statement closely to ensure that the environmental consequences of the construction and alternative sites are given sufficient and accurate weight, especially in light of the existing wetlands on the site.
"I will take all appropriate action to ensure that Connecticut's environment is adequately protected and that the process is truthful and transparent."
This story was released on 2008-08-05. Please make sure to visit the official company or organization web site to learn more about the original release date. See our disclaimer for additional information.