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Just as information technology is rapidly changing how we work, shop, and play, it is changing how we practice democracy. This paper focuses on one area where the Internet is broadening public participation in governance: the administration of environmental laws and regulations. It describes a survey of how each of the 50 states is using the Internet to provide citizens with environmental information, gather public input on agency decisions, and foster networks of interested citizens. As "laboratories for democracy," the states may be the source of ideas and experience that anticipate how environmental governance at all levels of government will change over the next decade. The survey results suggest that electronic democracy in state-level environmental decision-making is in an early and experimental phase. All state environmental agencies have Web sites and most provide substantial amounts of information on-line. However, opportunities for active on-line interaction between citizens and government, as well as among citizens themselves, are quite limited. Relatively few states, for example, allow citizens to comment on proposed rules electronically. Overall, the survey suggests that it is a good time for states to learn from each other as more innovative states push the envelope of what technology allows and more cautious states continue to adopt basic features as decision-makers become convinced of their efficacy.


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