September 30th, 2003 we began two full days of hearing before
Edward Buhrmaster, administrative law judge (ALJ) for the New
York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).
Our attorney, Christopher A. Amato, presented FRCH’s case
against the Thalle Industries proposed mine expansion. Our experts
presented information for the judge to consider.
As we have stated in the past, DEC lacks
credibility and moral authority. Their present decision regarding
this case illustrates the truth of this statement.
After nearly two months of reviewing testimony from experts and
from the counsel of DEC, Thalle Industries and Fishkill Ridge
Community Heritage, Judge Buhrmaster has ruled
there are no issues for adjudication regarding the expansion of
Thalle Mine. He stated there were no issues for adjudication in
the closing of his report. However, he in fact had already addressed
and decided on the issues raised.
Fishkill Ridge Community Heritage takes the following position:
is in error.
One of the purposes of an issues conference is to find if there
are any issues for adjudication. Adjudication becomes necessary
when experts disagree. Experts disagreed on the issue of the threatened
Eastern Timber Rattlesnake. The judge chose to accept the expert
testimony of the DEC testifying in support of Thalle Industries.
When the judge made this choice he in effect adjudicated the
issue. This adjudication was premature and contrary to the purpose
of the conference: to identify any issues for adjudication to
be decided in a more formal hearing.
Fishkill Ridge Community Heritage maintains the process the DEC
uses to include the public in development of its neighborhoods
is utterly flawed. It does not allow for appropriate public participation
in the process. The insistence on proof of party status to allow
for participation can be intimidating for most, and too costly
for many. It does not allow for fair participation among equals.
Where do we go from here? We are determined to keep issues we
consider unresolved before the public. We intend to notify the
public of the positions taken by the various parties – particularly
Scenic Hudson - who should take a bow. While they were invited
to apply for party status, they declined. Judge Buhrmaster, however,
waved the rules and allowed them special privilege. Scenic Hudson
could attend the conference, and could participate regarding any
issue as they saw fit without applying for party status. This
is a privilege that would not normally be extended. While they
could comment on any issues raised, Warren P. Reiss, counsel for
Scenic Hudson remained silent as we argued the threatened Eastern
Timber Rattlesnake could quite possibly use Thalle property
in its seasonal migratory path, or as a den site. They also remained
silent when we argued an additional 29 acres of strip mining would
permanently destroy an irreplaceable ecological system and further
disrupt the view shed not only from route 9, but also from their
own hiking trails atop Bald Mountain.
Fishkill Ridge Caretakers also offered no support of our opposition
to the expansion: quite to the contrary. They offered public recognition
that Thalle Industries was working with the environmentalists
for an amicable solution. The Eastern Timber Rattlesnake is a
threatened species. We are obligated both ethically and by law
to protect these reptiles. We intend to honor this obligation.
Our attorney, Christopher A. Amato, Esq. is currently preparing
an appeal. Legal fees and the necessary expert participation are
expensive. It is possible Thalle Industries, Inc., along with
Scenic Hudson and the DEC could get its own way in this case simply
by using the DEC's access to taxpayer money to outspend us. That
would be a tragic loss for the citizens in the entire region and
a defeat for citizen participation in government. Accordingly,
we need and ask for your financial support. Please send any monetary
donation to Anthony Henry Smith, Treasurer, 30 Adriance Ave.,
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601. Please contact us should you require further
details regarding your donation.
Thank you for your concern and support!
Ann LaGoy, President, Fishkill Ridge Community Heritage
Click here to get more information on getting
involved with FRCH.