EPA network grants total $20M

Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency formally announced today that about $20 million in grants were awarded during fiscal year 2003 for agency's planned information sharing network.

A total of 68 grants were given to 43 states, two U.S. territories and 16 Native American tribes for work on the National Environmental Information Exchange Network. EPA officials hope state and regional partners will use it to share environmental data. Each partner is using the funds to develop a network node that will serve as an entryway into the exchange. When complete, the network will serve as a centralized location at which EPA officials can send and receive information from partners. Officials expect to have approximately 20 states integrated into the network by the end of the year. Only a handful of states are currently connected — most notably Delaware, Nebraska and New Hampshire.

"For too long, states and other EPA partners have shouldered a disproportionate share of the work and costs of exchanging environmental data," said EPA Acting Administrator Marianne Horinko.

According to Horinko, the network will enable EPA to receive timely environmental data that will aid in policy decision-making. Another advantage is that individual citizens will have access to important information regarding their communities.

Through the network, the EPA and state agencies will exchange information on environmental topics such as safe drinking water analyses, air emissions, beach monitoring and notifications, and hazardous waste permits and cleanup. The network also is intended to help the EPA satisfy the e-government initiative of the President's Management Agenda by using technology to make data more accessible to citizens.

The Network Grant Program contains four types of grants. Network One Stop grants continues work done under the One Stop Program, while Network Readiness grants further nodal development. Network Challenge grants advance the Exchange Network and Network Administration grants support state and tribal technical and administrative needs.

Over half of the total funding — $11.5 million — went towards Readiness grants for 37 states, two territories and four tribal agencies.

The agency has requested $25 million towards funding the grant program for fiscal 2004.

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