SPJ Joins Groups Urging EPA to Continue Running Public Notices in Newspapers

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INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists supports the Public Notice Resource Center and 43 newspaper associations in filing comments urging the Environmental Protection Agency not to deprive the public of newspaper notices relating to the approval of permits under the Clean Air Act. EPA is considering notifying the public about CAA permits only on a government website.

On Dec. 29, EPA announced its intention to reduce the public notice it currently provides in connection with most CAA actions by eliminating the requirement that the notices run in local newspapers near the potential sources of pollution EPA is planning to approve.

“Keeping these notices in local newspapers helps to ensure that the civically engaged readers and those who are most likely to be personally impacted by these types of activities receive the information earlier rather than later,” said SPJ National President Paul Fletcher. “To change this practice – one that has been in effect for more than 200 years – is bad for the American general public.”

Bradley L. Thompson II, president of PRNC, said EPA’s plans to post notices on its website isn’t sufficiently transparent. “It is especially unfortunate when pollsters tell us people are suspicious of Washington. Keeping these notices in places where readers will find them is a good way to combat public cynicism.”

The EPA based its proposal on the mistaken assumption that citizens affirmatively seek public notices and will regularly visit its website to learn about its plans, PNRC noted.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit spj.org.

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