Once NHDES has prepared a draft permit for a Title V facility, a public notice is issued indicating that the draft permit is available for review and that public comment or requests for a public hearing may be filed with NHDES.
Publicly available documents in the form of written, e-mail, or phone correspondence and public hearing audio tapes and written testimonies were collected from NHDES documents concerning the six urban and rural Title V operating facilities we studied in the state of New Hampshire.
Following institutional review board approval from the University of New Hampshire, structured interviews were also conducted with NHDES employees involved in the Title V permitting process and the Title V operating facility managers.
In general, public inquiries were fielded by NHDES ARD staff or the NHDES complaint manager, which is a position designed to provide direct service to the public and eliminate the need for the person making the inquiry to be redirected multiple times.
Two-thirds of the community residents who expressed their concerns about the facility also mentioned that they did not trust NHDES administration or the facility manager.
Both NHDES employees and Title V operating facility managers reported interacting with the public about environmental concerns and agreeing that the state environmental regulatory agency, the facility manager, and residents who share the community with the facility are the stakeholders in the environmental permitting process.
One incinerator located in a rural community, however, was regarded by both NHDES and the facility manager as having a negative public perception.
When asked if NHDES and the facility were proactive in involving the public in the permitting process, the responses varied in that some believed their work was more reactive than proactive and others believed they (NHDES and the facility manager) worked well together when it came to working with the public on an individual basis and during the public hearing process.
In a seven-page letter analyzing the various legal considerations involved, Assistant Attorney General Richard Head concluded: "I believe that if NHDES
issues a permit to USA Springs, the WTO and NAFTA will not affect NHDES
's obligation to require USA Springs to mitigate any adverse impacts resulting from its activities.