Sustained Outrage

200dep_sign1It’s the time of year when public hearings are held on rule changes being proposed by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

There’s a complete list of their proposals and hearing times/dates online here. But it seems important to highlight for now one specific hearing that’s coming up on Monday evening. It concerns proposed changes to the DEP Division of Air Quality’s rules for public notices for certain applications for air pollution permits.

You can read the proposal for yourself here. I’ve highlighted the portions about public notices.

In short, the proposal appears to be removing requirements that certain permit applications, when they go through public comment periods, include publication of a legal notice about the application and the comment period in local newspapers.  Instead, these notices would simply be posted on the WVDEP website.

One issue with this — and we’ll see if this receives any significant public comments — is that a notice in the local newspaper could be seen by anybody who reads that paper for their local news or obituaries or other information. To see notices on the WVDEP webpage, citizens would have to make it a point to visit that page — or if the agency also does email notices, sign up to receive those.

Of course, the idea behind publishing notices in the first place in newspapers “in general circulation” in the affected area is so that the general public — not just a specialized group that follows these issues — gets notice and have an opportunity for input.

The public hearing on this proposal, and on other air quality rule changes, is at 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 1, at the WVDEP office at 601 57th Street S.E., in Kanawha City.

UPDATED:  Here’s a story updating this post with information from DEP and from this evening’s public hearing.