Indiana may stop buying newspaper advertising to announce air pollution permits sought by businesses and industry and rely instead on online notices.
The state Department of Environmental Management announced that it's considering replacing public notice ads of some permit applications with electronic postings on the agency's website.
IDEM says switching to online notices "will enable permitting authorities to communicate permitting and other affected actions to the public more quickly and efficiently."
IDEM estimates the move also would save the agency an estimated $17,000 per year it now spends for advertising costs in local newspapers, The Times of Northwest Indiana reported.
Steve Key, executive director of the Hoosier State Press Association, said surveys show a strong majority of Indiana residents read public notice ads in their newspapers, and 85 percent favor government continuing to publish them in newspapers.
He said public notice ads are an independent check on government action that can be archived, verified and accessed by all segments of society.
"Most people don't know when annual financial reports for local government are published, or tax rate charts or school performance reports, but they find this information while reading their newspaper," Key said.
"Hoosiers aren't going to routinely check multiple government websites on a weekly basis to see whether anything has been posted that will directly impact or interest them."
Supporters and opponents of IDEM's proposed change to electronic notices for air pollution permits can submit comments to the agency through Oct. 6 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The agency said it will consider the public comments it receives in deciding whether to move forward with its plan.