EPA to launch AQI blog

The Environmental Protection Agency will launch a blog in March to create a public forum for comments and discussion about a proposed rule concerning the Air Quality Index.

EPA is proposing to update the AQI to reflect the latest standards for fine-particle-matter pollution. The proposal also would set a significant-harm level, which states use in developing emergency-episode plans.

EPA will accept comments for 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register, and it will hold a public hearing about the AQI on March 5 in Dallas.

The blog will open the week of March 2 — the same week as the public hearing — and provide the public with additional avenues for discussing the proposal, said EPA deputy administrator Marcus Peacock.

Comments to the blog will not be considered as part of the official record; however, the blog will provide people with links for submitting official comments. EPA will notify the public about how to participate in the blog and how to be notified when the blog is open.

“It’s important to use tools like a blog … to see what works and what doesn’t,” Peacock said. “This will allow the agency, and we hope other agencies later on, to use a blog in a formal rulemaking [context] and allow for comments to be on the record.”

Using blogs, wikis and other methods for rulemaking will eventually speed up the process and help in the creation of better rules, according to Peacock. Additionally, “Blogs are more collaborative, and people can have a dialogue about the rule, something that cannot happen right now during the rulemaking process,” Peacock added.

The EPA will use a commercial software package that provides blogging and analytical capabilities similar to blogging tools used by the National Academy of Public Administration for the National Dialogue on Health IT and Privacy, said Molly O’Neill, assistant administrator and chief information officer with EPA’s Office of Environmental Information.

The software will allow EPA to perform functions such as trend analysis based on discussions on the blog, O’Neill said.

More information about the AQI proposal can be found here.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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