Yes, a public hearing where local citizens can come and speak publicly to regulatory agencies. I didn’t have any knowledge to contribute, so all I did was take notes. I just finished typing them up (interspersed with internetting and solitaire). My note-taking skills are somewhat lacking. I need to learn or invent a better shorthand. Actually, I have a writing system that simplifies clusters of consonants; I really ought to dig it up and start rework it some so that it’ll work with taking quick notes in English. Still, I think they’re pretty good for all that. They are much better in the beginning. I’m mostly handicapped by my practice of taking notes in class, where I only note down what I didn’t know before. Bad habit, really. I thought about seriously blogging about it, but there’s nothing really in-depth I can offer. So I’ll just offer a few throwaway comments about an event I experienced today.
In the first place, I’d never attended a public hearing before. Many of us hadn’t. The facilitator explained what we would be doing; first, coming in, we were given “attendance cards” I guess for record-keeping. We indicated on these cards whether we intended to “testify.” In other words, if we would be speaking. It was not a question and answer session, but rather we’d submit our questions and comments, and the agencies we were addressing would respond later. There were four agencies there, and unfortunately I didn’t take them down. We were directed to point our comments towards issues of permitting and of water quality, and to adress particular agencies. Before the comments began, I expected that to be a serious limitation, but in fact the speakers were able to address a very wide range of issues. Everyone who spoke was opposed to granting a permit for the mining company in question, Appolo Fuels, because they had committed 83 violations on previous permits. It was also a mountaintop removal coal mine, which would tear up the landscape and contaminate the water supplies. There was not only a lack of enforcement of regulations already in place, but insufficient regulations in the first place; for instance, conductivity of water (which depends on the amount of dissolved ions in water, such as metals) was not regulated at all. People gave some rather moving personal stories as well. I may choose to post some highlights from my notes after sleeping on it. For now, though, I really need to get to sleep, since it is Wednesday tomorrow and I must get to school by 8:30. Good night.