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Merck & Co., Inc.

Letter from W. Michael McCabe to David Carr

January 16, 1997

Mr. David W. Carr, Jr.
Staff Attorney
Southern Environmental Law Center
201 West Main Street, Suite 14
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902-5065

Dear Mr. Carr:

Thank you for your December 18, 1996 letter to Administrator Carol Browner and Mr. Richard D. Wilson regarding the Merck XL project. We understand that you have concerns about the stakeholder process for the future evaluation of Merck's Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit and, in particular, believe that consent from a public interest group should be required before any permit changes are proposed.

The participation of parties that have a stake in the environmental impacts of a project is a key element of Project XL. As you know, the draft PSD permit currently provides a five-year periodic review process whereby changes to the permit can be recommended to the permitting authority upon full consent of the project signatories (i.e., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Merck, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors). The draft permit also provides that additional stakeholders, including three community representatives and a regional public interest group, will participate in the five-year reviews but their consent is not required for permit changes. It should be noted that the signatories' full consent on a permit change serves to recommend that the permitting authority propose a permit modification according to the public participation procedures that would be established in EPA's site-specific rulemaking. Thus, the public will have a formal opportunity to comment on proposed permit changes. The permitting authority must consider any public comments prior to issuing a revised permit.

As I mentioned in our recent telephone conversation, EPA plans to promulgate the proposed site-specific rulemaking for the Merck XL project near the end of January 1997. EPA plans to include the draft permit, containing the provisions described above, in the docket for public review during the comment period for the proposed rulemaking. EPA will include your December 18, 1996 letter in the docket and welcomes any further comments you may have on this issue during the public comment period for the rulemaking. We will thoroughly evaluate any public comments on this and all issues prior to making decisions about the provisions of the final rule.

I appreciate your contributions to the development of the Merck XL project. Please call me at (215) 566-2900 if you would like to discuss this matter further.


W. Michael McCabe
Regional Administrator
cc: Merck XL Stakeholders

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