Site flags environmental information

The federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental Council of States are partnering on a new Web site that will flag upcoming major reports and computer models that may be of interest to the public.

"We came to realize that information products that are not formal regulations still do have an impact in the public arena," said Elaine Stanley, director of the EPA's Office of Information Analysis and Access. "But we didn't have a process though which we could tell people what was in the pipeline, and what products might be of interest to them."

Underlying the decision to create the Information Products Bulletin site (www.epa.gov/ipbpages), she said, was the understanding that the more notice you can give people about these products and the more comments and input you can get on them, the better the final product will be.

The site is mainly populated with EPA information products, but state officials feel the site could stimulate increased publication of non-federal information, particularly that associated with multistate and regional issues.

"With the advent of the Internet, people have become hungry for more and more information to be made available," said Steve Thompson, deputy executive director of Oklahoma's Department of Environmental Quality. "And there's a perception that if it is not made available, then government is hiding something."

On the government side, the thought has prevailed that the public was not interested in the often esoteric kind of information published by government agencies, he said, "but that has shown not to be correct."

The Information Products Bulletin site will be updated quarterly—a time frame that Stanley said was decided upon, after comment from the public, in order to provide timely updates without overloading the site.

People cannot comment on issues via the Web site, but contact information is provided for each of the published issues that are open for public input.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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