Saturday, July 27, 2013

Regrettable regurgitations

After reading citizen comments submitted in response to the March 25, 2011 Public Notice, the Corps realized that there was no clear description of the scope of the proposed Central Texas Airport project. At an October 25, 2011 meeting, the Corps pressed the developer to define exactly what the project included. The response can be found on the very first page of the revised Environmental Information Document (EID) submitted in January 2012. The passage is worth repeating here - it’s priceless!

“The proposed, action [the proposed CTA] as described above, is a complete and independent project. No funding or approval for development beyond this proposed action has been obtained. The elements of the conceptual Eco-merge project (for example: commercial, industrial, or energy production, hotel, infrastructure, and other development features) are a second and independent project from the proposed action, on which the proposed action does not depend for its purpose and need. The specific design and feasibility of future actions will depend on what is economically feasible in the future.

Yet, for a project that’s ‘complete and independent’ from any other development, there is sure a LOT of promotion for ‘development beyond this proposed action’ in the Combined Decision Document. So how did all those regrettable regurgitations slip into the Corps’ permitting process?

The Corps clearly states in the Permit as well as throughout the Combined Decision Document that they relied on data provided by the applicant. The first EID was a particularly empty and egregious PR blitz. The revised EID was somewhat more restrained but there are still long passages reminiscent of the Bob Bullock Museum Eco-Merge hoopla in 2010, T. R. Reid’s half page ‘infomercial’ in the April 30, 2011 Advertiser and the Perryman Group’s infamous and fanciful ‘The Sky’s the Limit’ written in May 2009 for the Commissioners benefit before the 381 Agreement was negotiated. In addition, the developer responded separately to citizen comments submitted during the Public Notice.

So it’s no surprise that passages from these ’sources’ are referenced any time a ‘hook’ relating to ‘green’ or economic impact or concern about noise or light pollution or whether the project is even needed etc. appears. But it is especially disheartening that citizen concerns in the Public Interest Review section provided such fertile ground for the developer to strut his stuff. An unsavory reminder of the imperfections in regulatoryland and the persistent onslaught of development that flies in the face of reason.

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