EHS Management

E-Enterprise: Modernization or Just One More Program?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of trying to modernize its approach to environmental compliance and efficiency through a project called “E-Enterprise.” Today we will look at the basic premises of E-Enterprise and how it will affect the regulated community. Tomorrow we will review some of the comments the EPA has received concerning E-Enterprise.

Earlier this year, the EPA put out a call for comments on an E-Enterprise portal the Agency is planning on developing and claims will improve environmental results and enhance services to the regulated community and the public by making government more efficient. The EPA calls the E-Enterprise idea a “transformative 21st-century strategy for rethinking how government agencies deliver environmental protection in the United States.”

What is E-Enterprise and does it apply to me?

E-Enterprise is meant to be an antidote to the morass of programs, requirements, statutes, and funding mechanisms that has emerged over the past 40 years through the different approaches taken by the federal government, states, and tribes in addressing environmental issues.

The portal itself will be a website that is supposed to provide consolidated entry points for businesses and citizens to efficiently locate, obtain access to, and interact with relevant EPA, state, and tribal environmental programs and resources. One of the objectives for the program is to reduce costs and burdens for the regulated community.

Although the EPA thinks everyone should be interested in E-Enterprise, the Agency does suggest that it should be of particular interest to regulated companies and facilities that submit reports to the EPA and/or states.

According to the EPA, members of the regulated community will see at least four benefits from E-Enterprise. They will:

  • Save time and money by moving to streamlined, electronic reporting.
  • Use “smart” online tools that will help folks understand regulatory requirements and provide guidance through the permitting and reporting processes.
  • Allow companies and facilities to satisfy their federal and state reporting requirements in an integrated, streamlined manner. The EPA likens it to popular tax software that reuses common data across the federal and state forms.
  • Have opportunities to do business with federal and state regulators in a manner similar to the e-business models already used in banking and shopping.

Join us on Wednesday, October 14, for our in-depth webinar, Environmental Self Audits: Tips to Avoid Violations Under EPA’s New eDisclosure Plan

Where is it now and where is it going?

The EPA is currently conducting a scoping and business case for the E-Enterprise portal. The plan, as it stands now, is to have four portals, one each for:

  • The regulated community
  • The public
  • Coregulators (i.e., your federal, state, tribal, and agencies)
  • Local governments

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In terms of projects, the EPA points to a number of projects already underway or near-term that fall under the E-Enterprise model. These include electronic reporting for NPDES permits and public drinking water systems, a pilot electronic system for the consolidation of fuel reporting, and a scoping project for combined air emissions reporting, to name a few.

Longer-term projects under the E-Enterprise model include plans for:

  • Streamlining permitting across multiple environmental programs
  • Cradle-to-grave hazardous waste tracking through the E-Manifest
  • Pesticide label matching
  • Advanced watershed monitoring
  • Rulemaking for mandatory electronic reporting
  • “Smart” mobile tools for EPA and state inspectors
  • Air stationary source reporting: electronic reporting for performance and compliance reports