Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tinton Falls resolution passes, and NOPE will continue its EPA challenge by going to President Obama's "CEQ"

Confirmed this morning by Councilman Scott Larkin, the Tinton Falls Borough Council, as anticipated, last night passed a resolution supporting the Beck-Casagrande-O'Scanlon legislation in Trenton (S762-A2014) pushing for a cost-benefits analysis of the Laurelwood civilian housing plan at NWS Earle. NOPE appreciates the Council's continued support on all fronts.

Meanwhile, NOPE is drafting a letter to Nancy Sutley, Chair of the President's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which NOPE has learned from mostly fruitless dealings with the EPA, enforces the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, or "NEPA." We will post that letter here, once completed.

In short...through letters, a postcard campaign and phone calls, NOPE has long encouraged the EPA to withdraw its favorable rating of the Laurelwood Environmental Impact Statement, which violated NEPA, namely by obscuring the Department of Navy's true "purpose and need" for converting Laurelwood into a free-for-all rental complex through 2040. The EPA, however, argued in a December, 2009 letter that it does not have NEPA-enforcement powers, and therefore will not consider revising its rating.

So, NOPE is now going above the EPA and challenging President Obama's CEQ to probe this matter, which hopefully will prod the EPA, as our nation's environmental PROTECTION agency, to revise its Laurelwood rating with respect to information sufficiency, for the EIS commentary the EPA put forth was clearly based on misleading information provided by NAVFAC, a Naval agency. NOPE charges the DoN with misleading the public on its true need to rent military housing to civilians, which is solely to avoid a $3.5-$4 million annual rent payment to Laurelwood Homes, LLC...and nothing more.

Environmentally speaking, the "No Build Option" for what to do with the Laurelwood housing (i.e. do not build a 2-mile unimpeded access road thru an active and highly secure weapons base, do not let civilians live at NWS Earle) written off by the DoN as infeasible clearly is feasible based on what we now know (i.e. that the agreement automatically goes to buyout by May 1 if the Navy picks "No Build") and will have the least detriment to the environment...something the EPA should have recognized in its EIS response.

Maybe pressure on the CEQ helps...maybe it doesn't. Either way, NOPE will continue to press forward on this front and all others.

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