Agreement is first step toward enabling the sharing of state and EPA data through a nationwide network
Nebraska and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have signed the first
agreement under an effort to build a nationwide network for sharing environmental
The trading partner agreement between the Nebraska Department of Environmental
Quality and EPA's Region 7, based in Kansas City, Kan., spells out how and
when the agencies will share information about the facilities they regulate
It's the first step toward enabling the sharing of state and EPA data through
the National Environmental Information Exchange Network. When completed,
NEIEN will enable states and the EPA to share information more easily, improve
data accuracy and broaden public access.
The project was launched during the Clinton administration and received
a boost this year when President Bush included a $25 million grant program
in his fiscal 2002 budget request to help states develop the infrastructure
to participate in the network.
"This administration is following up with the support of what we've been
doing, so it's been fantastic," said Kristen Dunne, senior project manager for the
Environmental Council of States, a key participant in the NEIEN initiative.
Dennis Burling, information technology manager for NDEQ, said his agency
and the EPA will share facilities data using Extensible Markup Language
and agreed-upon standards. Ironing out differences in data formats is a
major hurdle to enabling states and EPA to share environmental information,
Initially the data shared under the agreement will include facilities' names,
addresses, phone numbers, contact people and other general information.
Eventually, environmental information such as air releases will be included,
said Maryane Tremaine, data steward coordinator for EPA Region 7.
When NEIEN is completed, each state that decides to participate will have
its own node on the network through which it can submit and obtain environmental
"When this is fully operational, not only will this allow states to share
with [the EPA], states will also be able to share data with other states,"
For example, that would help Maryland and Delaware exchange information
about the Chesapeake Bay more easily, Dunne said. As of now, state environmental
data is not linked or standardized, so sharing is difficult, she said.
The other states under EPA Region 7's jurisdiction — Iowa, Missouri and
Kansas — are evaluating Nebraska's agreement, but no agreements from them
are pending, Tremaine said. But it's only a matter of time, Burling said:
"There will be others to follow."
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