By Anthony Adragna
Sept. 16 --The Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) unanimously
endorsed an Environmental Protection Agency initiative that would create a
web-based portal to allow regulated entities to apply for permits, check their
compliance status, report air emissions, and learn about new regulations.
Known as the E-Enterprise, the portal will allow states and the EPA to share
environmental data electronically. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said Sept. 16
the tool could generate savings of $75 million annually.
The EPA and ECOS
signed an agreement to establish a group that will help develop the system. Bob
Perciasepe, the EPA deputy administrator, will be the co-chair of the committee,
McCarthy told state environmental regulators.
E-Enterprise is a “really,
really excellent example of where states have taken resource challenges and
turned them into an opportunity to be more efficient,” McCarthy said. “You
helped us define an agenda item for us and you even went and helped us sell it”
to the White House Office of Management and Budget.
The EPA's fiscal year
2014 budget request included $60 million, spread across multiple programs, to
support the new initiative. The agency said the initiative would reduce
paperwork and regulatory reporting burdens while giving industry, the
government, and the public better information on environmental issues.
“E-Enterprise builds on efforts such as e-Manifest for hazardous waste, which
will allow for one-stop reporting and save industry the costs of completing
thousands of pages of paper reports that cannot easily be used for tracking and
managing shipments,” the White House wrote in an overview of the budget.
McCarthy said working
with the states to secure the federal funding for the system “could not have
been a more collaborative process and, frankly, it cannot have been a more
She discussed E-Enterprise during a speech on the EPA's
upcoming priorities (see related story in this issue).
Perciasepe said ongoing budgetary uncertainty
had caused the agency to look for ways to streamline its operations and reduce
inefficiencies in the regulatory process.
“We have an imperative to do
this,” Perciasepe said. “The old ways of business are not going to be adequate
in today's world.”
ECOS cited open data and web services that make the
information easily available, ease of use for users, “seamless” integration
between state and federal information, and the preservation of existing
statutory authorities as important characteristics that it would like to see in
the final system.
Some state officials told the meeting that managing
environmental data is currently a problem for them. A representative from the
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection conducted a positive
return-on-investment analysis, indicating the system would generate benefits
that outweighed the initial cost of creating it.
Other state regulators
said the system could lead to increased collection of enforcement penalties and
permitting fees, better productivity through the use of mobile applications,
easier access to information for the business community, and expanded
information access for the public.
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