This morning, I was reading through the public comments submitted to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection in response to its proposal to do away with publishing public notices of certain air pollution permit actions in local newspapers in communities across West Virginia.
As we reported after a public hearing last week, this WVDEP plan was opposed by the West Virginia Press Association and the West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization. Recall that WVDEP Secretary Randy Huffman said he was open to changes to the proposal from Fred Durham, the agency’s air quality director.
Going through the public comments, it was hard to find anyone who favored what WVDEP had proposed — to eliminate public notices in community newspapers in favor of posting permit documents on the agency website.
Interestingly, though, I did find one letter that seems to back the proposal … it came from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
I asked WVDEP about this, and spokeswoman Kelley Gillenwater said:
DEP is still reviewing the Rule 13 comments … While EPA supports the revisions, the large majority of other commenters appear to oppose the revisions on various grounds.
(Don’t worry about that part where EPA suggests WVDEP is doing away with public notice for operating permits — that change isn’t really part of WVDEP’s proposal and those notices are still required under a separate state rule).
Take note, though, that EPA also wants to move toward electronic notices: