|During their Spring meeting held March 28-29, the E-Enterprise Leadership Council (EELC) highlighted efforts related to the EELC Strategic Direction for fiscal years 2022-2024 (FY22-24). The agenda focused on supporting tribal software needs, air emissions reporting, supplemental inspections with offsite compliance monitoring (OfCM), and opportunities for coordinating new infrastructure planning and funding, as summarized here:
Supporting Tribal Software Needs
Tribal EELC members outlined an approach to implement the work taking place under the priority area of Supporting Tribal Software Needs. The workgroup is cataloging tribal software and training needs, as well as identifying funds used to support longer-term costs. As a next step, they will conduct a life cycle analysis of specific software to understand root cause concerns. States, tribes, and EPA all highlighted investments in software as a necessary part of environmental program management, however, it comes with a cost. Joint purchasing options and joint training may emerge as best practices for supporting longer-term investments and needs.
Air Emissions Reporting
EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, alongside state leaders from Maine and North Carolina, provided an update on the Combined Air Emissions Reporting System (CAERS), a foundational E-Enterprise project. The project has moved from the conceptual stage to a prototype system and is looking for EELC support to champion the expansion of its use. The version 3 CAERS prototype was used by Georgia, the District of Columbia, and Pima County, Arizona for regulated facility reporting in 2021, and more states plan to onboard in 2022. Future efforts will focus on developing automated data access capabilities for states.
Offsite Compliance Monitoring
During the pandemic, EPA and states made use of OfCM. To determine its effectiveness, EPA’s Office of Compliance has been collecting information from the regional offices and now is engaging with both states and tribes to learn more about their OfCM activities. The EELC discussed that OfCM adds a cost-effective tool to the compliance toolbox.
New Infrastructure Planning and Funding
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill provides the largest influx of funds EPA has ever received. While this offers great opportunities, it also presents challenges for EPA, state, tribal, and local communities related to managing and prioritizing the use of the funds. Referencing the challenge of prioritization when moving to address critical matters through an environmental justice lens, one EELC member pointed out that pushing out funds quickly may not result in getting help to those who need it most. States discussed their focus on securing resources to effectively administer funding and best direct it toward priority issues. States acknowledged challenges with supporting small communities with right-size solutions and funding streams that meet their needs appropriately. Tribes expressed an interest in partnering with states on infrastructure projects so that efforts are coordinated.
Other topics covered during the Spring meeting included using participatory science data to engage communities in environmental protection and modernizing data management for air and water compliance and enforcement. Collectively, these topics (as well as others selected for FY22-24) comprise the EELC Strategic Direction, providing EPA, state, and tribal leaders with a clear picture of EELC expectations over the next several years.
For more information, contact Andrew Battin of EPA’s Office of E-Enterprise, Beth Graves of ECOS, or Jason White of the Cherokee Nation.