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On May 5, 2008, Riverkeeper submitted legal comments to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), urging the agency to use the powerful legal tool contained in Section 401 of the Federal Clean Water Act in evaluating a proposed development in Newburgh. The proposal is for a large mall to be built on a site of over 100 acres of now mostly forested property which contains wetlands, vernal pools, vulnerable species, and other high value ecological assets.
The DEC has the power to ensure compliance with all State law related to water resources by withholding the Section 401 certification and effectively stopping any project which requires a Federal permit. Riverkeeper staff attorney Rebecca Troutman urged the DEC to bring pressure on the developer, the local Town Planning Board, and the US Army Corp of Engineers, to ensure compliance with all water related State laws, to require proper public participation in the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process (including site access), and to at least postpone issuing the Section 401 certification until all legal matters are fully resolved.