In reference to Del. Bloxom’s Feb. 18 column about his bill “so that the authority [of the citizen boards] will be limited,” he’s showing us where his priorities are. He is more concerned about “time and cost for businesses to obtain permits,” than about protecting our fragile environment, providing citizens with the ability to voice their concerns, and maintaining a transparent process.
I’ve had the opportunity to talk with someone who has attended a couple of the State Water Control Board meetings in Richmond, as well as public hearings held here on the Eastern Shore. The members of these citizen boards are conscientious, diligent, and committed to following the science. Their job is to provide oversight of a department — often under-resourced and overseen by political appointees — charged with protecting our sole-source aquifer and our fragile environment. Without these public meetings, as well as public decisions by the Air and Water Control Boards, decisions would be made behind closed doors by DEQ, with no recourse or explanation.
The person I spoke with has expressed her concerns because these are not out-of-control boards making radical decisions; they’ve only overturned recommendations from the Department of Environmental Quality four times in the last 20 years. As our environment comes under ever-increasing pressure, taking the time to give citizens an opportunity to understand and be part of the process should be the least we can ask. It’s a shame that Del. Bloxom doesn’t think so.