States to share air info

Next month, states will be able to submit air emissions inventory data to

the Environmental Protection Agency for the first time through a developing

information network linking states and the agency, EPA Administrator Christie

Whitman told a congressional committee Tuesday.

Whitman, testifying at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

hearing on EPA's fiscal 2002 budget request, said enabling states to share

their air emissions data demonstrates the progress EPA has made in developing

its National Environmental Information Exchange Network.

The network is designed to enable states, local governments, the EPA

and others to share information electronically and thus "reduce burden,

improve accuracy and inform decision-making," Whitman said in testimony

submitted to the committee. The network will include standardized data formats

and definitions, according to President Bush's budget request.

The request calls for $25 million in grants to help states and the EPA

develop the infrastructure to support the exchange network and improve states'

environmental information systems.

It's part of the Bush administration's plan to give states more control

over environmental matters. For example, another $25 million in grants will

support state environmental enforcement programs. About 95 percent of compliance

inspections and 90 percent of enforcement actions are made by states, Whitman

noted.

Sen. Bob Smith (R-N.H.), chairman of the committee, said the grant money

supporting the National Environmental Information Exchange Network is one

of several initiatives that will "better equip the states" and begin "the

necessary shift to increasing partnerships with them."

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