Massachusetts’ Environmental Agencies Launch Innovative Online Data Information and Public Access System
System Delivers Online Permitting, Greater Data Accessibility, and Government Transparency
BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today launched the first phase of a transformative environmental data and public information access system. The new system will deliver online permitting, greater data accessibility, and provide increased transparency in state government operations for businesses and stakeholder groups across the Commonwealth and the public at-large. The Energy and Environmental Information and Public Access System (EIPAS) will provide the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and its agencies with a modern, digital platform to more efficiently and effectively execute its mission of protecting the Commonwealth’s environmental and energy resources. The first phase establishes online permitting for 30 permits, which includes many for air quality, hazardous waste, solid waste, Toxic Use Reduction, water supply, special use permits and pesticides.
“Providing timely environmental and energy permitting options for businesses and immediate public access to relevant state data and documents are important and responsive services for state government to provide,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This new, innovative system will bolster those processes and make the public-private dynamic more interactive.”
“With technology rapidly evolving and improving, it is essential that governmental agencies keep up with the needs of the public,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Importantly, the Energy and Environmental Information and Public Access System will enable finding environmental and energy information online in real time.”
EEA has implemented online permitting for some permits through EIPAS for three agencies: the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP); the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Pesticide Applicator Licenses; and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Special Use Permits (coming soon for the 2018 season). As part of the first phase, virtually all of MassDEP’s air quality permits can now be submitted online.
“The EIPAS initiative will update EEA’s existing legacy systems by replacing them with a highly functional and integrated online system,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “This is just the beginning of the process, as we plan to implement additional phases and agency permits over the next year that will continue to increase automation, improve citizen experiences, and increase governmental transparency.”
Through EIPAS, EEA and its agencies have also activated two public-facing online portals:
- The Public Comment Portal allows citizens to access information on EEA and agency permit applications and final decisions, as well as to submit and view public comments pertaining to permit applications; and
- The Information Data Portal’s initial release includes 20 years of MassDEP’s permit, inspection, facility and enforcement data, providing both data query and analytical dashboard capabilities.
“The online data portal is a ground-breaking initiative that provides a way to search MassDEP permitting, facility, inspection and enforcement data all at once,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “The portal allows traditional search capabilities and enables the user to link a specific permit back to a regulated facility and then to inspections or enforcement actions associated with that facility.”
“EIPAS is a tremendous, positive game-changer for one of MDAR's largest customer groups: licensed pesticide applicators,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “With this system's introduction, our customers may now quickly and conveniently process essential licensing and examination transactions on-line, a vast improvement over the previous method.”
“The Energy and Environmental Information and Public Access System will truly benefit those seeking permits from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and other agencies by streamlining and simplifying the process,” said DCR Commissioner Leo Roy. “This new system is an excellent example of the Baker-Polito Administration’s priority to make state government more user friendly for businesses, the public, and other stakeholders.”
The initial phases of EIPAS are permitting and the online data portals. The permitting component of EIPAS is part of a larger Commonwealth-wide online permitting initiative, “ePLACE,” which stands for Permitting, Licensing, Authorizations, Certifications and Eligibility. When fully implemented, EIPAS will include features that support key regulatory business processes, including permitting, compliance and enforcement tracking, and online reporting.
The fully implemented EIPAS platform will provide benefits and value to citizens and the regulated community by growing the Commonwealth’s ability to:
- Facilitate transparent sharing of data with citizens, regulated entities, energy and environmental professionals, and other public agencies;
- Automate transactions with the regulated community through expanded online permitting and environmental reporting, resulting in streamlined interactions with EEA and its agencies;
- Enhance and streamline EEA agencies’ compliance and enforcement efforts through data-driven compliance strategies – automating manual compliance and enforcement processes; and
- Enable EEA and its agencies to more quickly adapt their processes to evolving environmental issues.
The ePermitting “ePLACE” portal can be found here.
The Information Data portal can be found here.