SmartComment has been hired by the state's lead environmental agency, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, to provide it with a better way to gather and respond to public input for a set of important environmental proposals.
For this new project, the Alaska DEC is considering some updated rules around how to prevent oil discharges, as well as the state's contingency plans if one does happen. The proposal process includes a public comment period to gather input from citizens and industry stakeholders on how to proceed with the plans.
It marks SmartComment's third project in Alaska after helping the Army Corps of Engineers manage intensive public comment periods for the proposed Nanushuk oil discovery on the state's North Slope and for an environmental impact statement for the proposed Pebble Mine in the southwest part of the state.
Just as the Army Corps of Engineers did with the Nanushuk and Pebble Mine projects, the Alaska DEC decided to ditch the hard-to-manage traditional public comment process and instead partner with SmartComment to use innovative software to collect, organize and respond to their public comments. This is a win for the stakeholders who now have a much easier way to share their input and for agency staff who now have powerful tools to help them with the public comment process.
By choosing SmartComment, the Alaska DEC joins dozens of state and federal agencies that rely on SmartComment's public comment software to effectively and transparently manage an entire public engagement campaign--from accepting online comments through a dedicated web portal, providing a powerful way to separate each submission into individual comments, and offering a simple way to export each one alongside the official agency response.
The Alaska DEC's use of SmartComment is really important for a couple of reasons. First, regulators in Alaska are under immense scrutiny to balance use of state's natural resources with their responsibility to protect some of the country's most ecologically sensitive areas, including multiple national and state parks. And turning to a software partner like SmartComment brings innovation to the process of handling citizen input on sensitive matters.
Combined with heightened public interest in environmental matters, it's yet another signal that state and federal agencies are using SmartComment to make it easier for members of the public to weigh in on the projects, rules and regulations that affect their lives.
We look forward to another amazing experience improving public engagement in one of the most beautiful corners of the world!