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New York Tribe Responds to BIA Notice

18 September 2006

AKWESASNE, New York – (PRESS RELEASE) -- On September 12th, 2006 the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council announced the Notice of Availability issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Eastern Region Office of the Draft Environmental Assessment for the Mohawk Monticello Raceway Casino Project for a 30-day public review and comment period. In light of that announcement and to assist the public in responding to the Notice of Availability, the Tribe would like to share its perspective on the proposed project.

"The Tribe has worked very closely with local, state, and federal officials to ensure that its Casino project development is in full compliance with all state and federal environmental laws," said Tribal Chief Barbara A. Lazore. "We take pride in protecting the environment within our tribal territory and we have approached the Monticello Casino project in the same regard," she added.

Chief Lazore was referring to the fact that the Tribe's EA was completed in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA), the Council of Environmental Quality's implementing regulations and the State Environmental Quality Act ("SEQRA"). Both a state Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and a federal Environmental Assessment (EA) have been prepared for the Mohawk Monticello Casino Raceway project. Both processes require extensive environmental reviews.

"The Tribe's proposal involves the redevelopment of an existing gaming facility located on an existing paved parking lot with more than adequate public infrastructure at and surrounding the site," said Chief Lorraine M. White. "Because of this fact, it is reasonable to conclude that there will be no significant impacts to the natural environment," she added.

The Tribal Council further stated that the detailed analysis of secondary and cumulative effects in the Tribe's proposed draft Final EA, shows that there would be no significant community impacts (e.g., schools, safety, housing, traffic) and if there were any impacts, the local funding agreement between the Tribe and the County can and will mitigate any such impacts to insignificant levels.

"Public participation has been an integral part of the environmental review process for our project," said Tribal Chief Barbara A. Lazore. "It is a requirement of both the state and federal environmental review processes and we support that," she added.

Chief Lazore cited the public participation requirements under both the State Environmental Quality Review Act ("SEQRA") and the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"). Each process includes extensive public comment periods at key points in the review.

"The public must not forget that the environmental reviews for our project looked at, and include, extensive analysis on traffic, water quality, air quality, and cumulative effects," said Tribal Chief James W. Ransom. "The EA for our project is thorough and fulfills all of the requirements of both SEQRA and NEPA," he added.

Chief Ransom was referring to the comprehensive nature of the SEQRA and NEPA process and the fact that the environmental review must comply with each of those requirements. The reviews included, but were not limited to, the examination of impacts on air and water quality, traffic, as well as cumulative effects.

"We are confident that the draft Final EA for the Mohawk Monticello Raceway Casino Project has fulfilled all of the requirements for environmental review, including numerous opportunities for public comment," said the Tribal Council. "This exciting project will undoubtedly provide tremendous benefits to both the Tribe and the surrounding communities in Sullivan County," they concluded.

The St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council is the duly elected and federally recognized government of the Mohawk people.

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