Final day to comment on WV DEP rule stopping newspaper public notice on certain air pollutants permits

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The WV DEP’s Division of Air Quality is holding a public hearing tonight — Monday, Aug. 1 —  for comment on several proposed rules that would be sent to the WV Legislature for consideration next session. The public hearing is from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. today.

Among these rules is 45CSR13 — Permits for Construction, Modification, Relocation, and Operation of Stationary Sources of Air Pollutants, Notification Requirements, Administrative Updates, Temporary Permits, Permission to Commence Construction, and Procedures for Evaluation.

45CSR13_Proposed – DEP PUBLIC NOTICE Changes

In summary, 45CSR13 — would remove public notification by Class I and Class II legal advertisements in a newspaper of general circulation in favor of placing the notification on a WVDEP/DAQ webpage.

The issue in question for this public hearing is the permitting application for stationary sources of air pollutants. The proposed rule (45CSR13_Proposed – DEP PUBLIC NOTICE Changes) would remove public notification by Class I and Class II legal advertisements in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where the source would be located, in favor of placing the notification on a WVDEP/DAQ webpage.

WVPA Executive Director Don Smith voiced his organization’s opposition to the proposed rule:

“Proposed rule 45CSR13 would take permit applications for designated stationary sources of air pollutants — which would seem to be of tremendous public interest in the impacted community — out of plain sight and bury them in the tangle of links and documents on a government-designated website.  Anyone looking for the information would have to know exactly what it is they’re searching for and when and where to look. Rather than going to their local newspaper where they have always gone to see these legal advertisements, citizens would be left searching for a needle in a haystack,” Smith said.

“The WVPA and our member newspapers defend all public notice and the value of placing public notice/legal advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation in the impact area. Public notice laws were created to notify the public of government actions that may affect the public’s interests or rights.  Residents rely on local newspapers for this information. Providing public notice is not a formality, it’s a responsibility … a huge responsibility,” Smith added.

“Newspapers notify the community. Newspapers effectively ‘push’ the Public Notices out to the public. If notices are only on government websites, it requires citizens to look for what they need to know. Publishing a public notice in a community newspaper enables citizens to be aware of and understand what is happening in their neighborhood, city or town. That is the reason notices must be published in the county impacted. It prevents the notices from being hidden in a distant paper or a massive database. Government files are just that – files. Putting a permit application or a corporate document in an electronic database is not public notice. Publishing in a newspaper, bringing the matter directly to the attention of the community is public notice” Smith said.

To comment on the proposed rule, send emails to [email protected] 

The deadline for commenting is 8 p.m. today.

 

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