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Environmental Justice Advisory Group: Ground Rules

Approved: March 8, 2000
Revised: September 12, 2005

1. Process

a. When making decisions, Advisory Group members will strive for the most broad, inclusive, and informed consensus possible. When consensus is not reached, decisions will be based on majority vote. A vote will be taken only when a majority of the Advisory Group members in attendance agree that active, open, and constructive participation by all Advisory Group members has occurred and that consensus is not possible.

b. At least two-thirds of the members of the Advisory Group must be present for a vote to take place. Voting will be completed by a show of hands, or, in the case of a very close vote, a roll call. Any Advisory Group Member may request a roll call. Members are encouraged to carefully consider all viewpoints before deciding how they will vote.

c. All written reports may include a discussion that expresses both the majority and minority viewpoints, whenever disagreement still exists.

d. A facilitator that is not a member of the Advisory Group may be present at each meeting to enforce the ground rules, ensure that the agenda is followed, and make certain that work is accomplished in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

e. Advisory Group members will strive to keep all discussions on track, and will come to each meeting prepared to participate in the discussions that have been planned for the day. Only one person will speak at a time, and all participants will have an opportunity to speak. The facilitator, Chair or Acting Chair will recognize participants in order. All Advisory Group Members will participate in a civil fashion and will not raise their voice or talk over other participants.

f. The Advisory Group may form subcommittees as needed to accomplish business in the most effective manner. All subcommittees will consult the Advisory Group regarding decisions or recommendations made to the Department. The Advisory Group will consider subcommittee reports when making decisions.

2. Attendance at Advisory Group meetings

a. Advisory Group Members must make a good faith effort to attend all Advisory Group meetings. If a member must miss a meeting, a designated substitute approved by the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation, may attend the meeting and represent the member's position. The designated substitute will have the same voting rights as the principal Advisory Group Member. The substitute must be well informed on the Advisory Group meeting subject matter and the ground rules. Members that must miss a meeting may submit written comments on the topic that will be discussed at that meeting for consideration by the Advisory Group. However, these written comments will not be used as a vote on any issue.

b. Members that miss three consecutive meetings or a significant amount of meetings may be asked to resign from the Advisory Group.

c. A representative from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, staff from the Department and others as appropriate, approved by the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation, will be considered advisors and are invited to participate in all meetings. However, advisors will not be allowed a vote on any decision.

d. All meetings of the Advisory Group will be open to observers. However, only Advisory Group members, their substitutes and advisors may participate at meetings. Observers must identify themselves to the Advisory Group and may be invited to speak from time to time upon approval of the Advisory Group. Written comments from observers may be submitted at any time.

e. The Advisory Group will meet at least four (4) times a year. Additional meeting times may be requested by the Advisory Group whenever needed to accomplish the Advisory Group objectives.

3. Public statements and documents

a. Public comment will be welcome and solicited as appropriate.

b. All final meeting minutes and other documentation prepared in conjunction with the Advisory Group will be made available to the public upon request.

c. Advisory Group members may speak to the public or the press regarding Advisory Group Activities. Those members must be clear, that they are stating only their own views and not those of any other Advisory Group member, the Advisory Group as a whole, or the Department. In talking to the public or the press, Advisory Group members shall do so in a civil fashion bearing in mind the principles of item 1.e. under Process. Advisory Group members may discuss the outcome of decisions that have been made; however, they may not speculate publicly about decisions that the Advisory Group has yet to make.

d. Individual Advisory Group members may not make statements that bind the Advisory Group, unless prior permission by the Advisory Group has been given and formalized in writing by the Advisory Group Chair.

4. Project Deliverables

Project deliverables will be determined by the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation based upon recommendations of the Advisory Group and the DEC Environmental Justice Coordinator.

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