News Releases issued by the Office of Environmental Information
EPA Proposes Burden Reduction Rule for the Toxics Release Inventory
Release Date: 09/21/2005
Contact: Suzanne Ackerman, 202-564-4355 / firstname.lastname@example.org
(Washington, D.C. -- Sept. 21, 2005) EPA is proposing a rule to expand the use of a shortened reporting form (Form A certification statement) for some facilities. The proposal is expected to save 165,000 hours per year, while still ensuring full Form R (long form) reporting on over 99 percent of toxic releases and other waste management activities. The proposal also provides new incentives to facilities to emit less in order to be able to use the shorter form. This proposed action comes after an extensive evaluation by EPA, its stakeholders and reporting facilities to address the concerns expressed about TRI reporting burden.
"Since TRI began in 1986, EPA has learned a great deal about the power that public information has to influence corporate behavior and empower communities, and we also have found new ways to use technology to reduce costs for everyone involved, improve data quality and speed the release of the information collected," said Kimberly T. Nelson, assistant administrator for the Office of Environmental Information and Chief Information Officer for EPA. "Today's proposal would provide burden reduction for approximately 1/3 of TRI reporters while still requiring facilities to report on all chemicals that they report on today."
The proposed rule is part of an on-going effort to streamline TRI reporting. EPA issued a final rule in July 2005 that revised the TRI reporting forms to eliminate information not used, and to make use of data already available in existing EPA information systems.
In a separate but related action to the proposal being announced, EPA is notifying Congress, as required by the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) Section 313(i), that the agency plans to initiate a rulemaking to modify the frequency of reporting under the TRI program. As required by Section 313(i) (5), EPA will delay the initiation of such rulemaking for at least 12 months, but no more than 24 months, from the date of the notification. EPA is taking this step because we believe that alternate year reporting not only offers burden reduction, but also offers other potential advantages that merit consideration. Not only would alternate year reporting result in significant burden reduction for covered facilities, citizens would benefit from the redirection of federal and state taxpayer dollars to improve the quality, clarity, usefulness and accessibility of TRI information products and services.
Program savings during the non-reporting years would be reinvested to: (1) improve the TRI-Made Easy (TRI-ME) software, thereby improving data quality and further reducing burden on reporters, (2) conduct more analysis of the TRI data making it more useful to citizens and communities, and (3) invest in greater electronic reporting including a web-based TRI-ME for all reporters. Electronic reporting to EPA enables us to provide even greater taxpayer savings as processing time diminishes.
As the agency begins collecting information that will aid an analysis of the alternate year approach, we stand ready to consider all viewpoints on the issues and plan to convene meetings with TRI stakeholders to invite their views. Any changes that EPA may propose as a result of this notice will be done as part of a full notice and public comment rulemaking process.
For almost 20 years, EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) has shown that the amount of toxic chemicals released into the environment by reporting facilities continues to decline. In this year's report, nearly 24,000 facilities reported on approximately 650 chemicals including toxics managed in landfills and underground injection wells as well as those released into water and the air.
TRI provides the American public with vital information on chemical releases including disposal for their communities, and is an important instrument for industries to gauge their progress in reducing pollution. TRI tracks releases of chemicals and industrial sectors specified by the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986 and its implementing regulations. The Pollution Prevention Act (PPA) of 1990 also mandates that facilities report data on other waste management activities such as treatment, recycling and energy recovery. Together, these laws require facilities in certain industries to report annually on releases, disposal and other waste management activities related to these chemicals. In addition, since 1994, EPA has by rulemaking expanded the program by doubling the number of covered chemicals, adding seven new industrial sectors, and lowering reporting thresholds for persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic (PBT) chemicals. These rulemakings have provided valuable new information to communities but have also increased the burden on reporters.
EPA remains committed to an open process that will consider all viewpoints as we go forward. We will move deliberatively and evaluate options using our almost 20 years of implementation experience and data to consider the impacts of any potential action.
Additional information, a copy of the proposal and notification to Congress will be available to the public at: http://www.epa.gov/tri/tridata/modrule/phase2