The following is adopted with permission from www.skyislandalliance.org.
The agency is required by law to respond to all “substantive” comments.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that the lead agency – in this case, the US Forest Service – prepare responses to all substantive comments received on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) during the public comment period and include those responses in the Final EIS. The more specific and focused your comments are, the more detailed the response must be from the agency.
The more specific you can make your comments, the better.
More specific comments are the most desirable and will require a more detailed response to the agency. An example would be: “I am concerned that the DEIS does not identify a mill site, transportation route, or communities potentially impacted from transportation of uranium ore. The agency needs to analyze these impacts.”
Comments that simply say, “I am concerned about water quality” or “I am opposed to this project” will not, by themselves, require a response from the agency.
Include the specific sections, pages and/or topics you are referencing in the DEIS.
To the extent you can, direct your comments to specific sections, pages or topics in the DEIS, recognizing that some comments may be addressing missing or incomplete information, or even missing topics, that you feel should be addressed.
Make your letter personal!
Your personal connection to Mt. Taylor is an incredibly important part of your comment letter. How will you be personally impacted if this proposal moves forward? This is a great way to start your letter and to frame the rest of your comments, and will help get the agency’s attention.
Questions to consider as you draft your comments:
- Does the EIS provide an adequate discussion of the impacts on a particular resource (air, water, traffic, vegetation, etc.)? What did the agency miss in its analysis?
- Should the discussion of a particular impact cover a broader geographic area? A longer timeframe? Identify how you think the analysis should be changed?
- Are the conclusions about the level of impact on a particular resource well justified? If not, why not?
What more is needed to reach a sound conclusion?
- Is mitigation for each resource adequately identified and described? Will it adequately address the impacts? Why not?
- If you sent in scoping comments, does the EIS adequately address the issues you raised in those comments?