Evolving health and safety policies from our regional partners designed to hinder the spread of COVID-19 in Washington and Oregon have prompted federal officials to replace all scheduled in-person public comment meetings with phone-in meetings for the recently released Columbia River System Operation draft Environmental Impact Statement.
Officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration announced that all of the planned in-person public comment meetings will be held virtually due to the high number of COVID-19 cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Washington and Oregon.
Calls from local officials to limit public exposure, and the desire to prevent spread of the virus also influenced the decision to hold phone meetings in place of in-person meetings.
To encourage the highest possible participation, six phone-in opportunities have been added to the ways the public can submit comments during the comment period. The teleconferences will be run similarly to in-person public hearings. Senior leadership from the co-lead agencies will host each session, and each participant can provide a statement of up to 3 minutes, which will be entered into the official record. Participants will be able to hear each other's testimony.
Details on when and how to call into the phone sessions will be posted at www.crso.info. The public is encouraged to monitor the website for any updates.
The draft EIS is available for public review online at EPA's searchable EIS database (https://cdxnodengn.epa.gov/cdx-enepa-II/public/action/eis/search) or www.crso.info.