DEP wrong to try to keep notices from newspapers

An editorial from The Journal

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Many of the bureaucrats in state government wish you would just stop bothering them. Having to consider and perhaps even respond to West Virginians with concerns can be such a pain.

What if people didn’t know about an important issue? No awareness, no bothersome involvement by the public.

It is the career bureaucrats’ dream. Some of them are attempting to make it reality.

If you plan to begin emitting pollutants into the air in West Virginia, you probably will have to seek permission from the state Department of Environmental Protection. Approval also is needed if you plan to change something about a current source of emissions.

The process includes notices published in newspapers serving areas affected by the emissions. They let the public know something that may concern them is up. Notices also allow them to tell the DEP how they feel about emissions plans.

Businesses, along with local and state governments, are required to publish newspaper notices on matters ranging from plans for new roads to requests that contractors bid on them. Again, the idea is to keep the public informed.

But DEP officials want to eliminate the requirement for newspaper notices on some air pollution permit applications. Instead, they plan to post the information on the agency’s website.

You do visit the DEP website frequently, don’t you? Oh, you don’t?

Sarcasm aside, not many people visit the DEP website or any other government-run internet location. Doing that would take considerable time out of your day, even if you managed to find what you were looking for on the websites.

The bureaucrats are counting on people not seeing the website notices. That’s why they want the information out of newspapers – because they know that if it is in the local paper, people will see it.

It is an attempt to keep the public in the dark, purely and simply. West Virginians should not tolerate it.

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