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EPA’s ECHO Resonates with Public One Million Searches Recorded in First Year of Enforcement/Compliance Web Database

Release Date: 11/19/2003
Contact Information:


Luke C. Hester 202-564-7818 / hester.luke@epa.gov

(11/19/03) - ECHO, EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online database, successfully delivered local-facility compliance and enforcement information in response to over one million search requests in its first year of operation. Accessible at: http://www.epa.gov/echo, ECHO gives every citizen the ability to easily access extensive information on EPA’s environmental inspections, findings of violations and enforcement actions at more than 800,000 facilities nationwide.

“Americans have been able to exercise their right to know what EPA is doing to protect their health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt. “Simply by entering zip code information on ECHO, people can obtain valuable free information on protective enforcement and compliance actions taken near their homes, schools, playgrounds, hospitals or workplaces.”

ECHO is an easy-to-use gateway to comprehensive information on regulatory violations of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which regulates the disposal of waste. The user can obtain information on the compliance status of local facilities regulated by each of those laws. Included is information from both EPA and the environmental agency of each state. The information is constantly updated.

During ECHO’s initial trial, EPA received over 10,000 e-mails supporting continuation and enhancement of the enforcement/compliance database. As an unexpected benefit, industry reported that companies were finding ECHO to be an efficient and cost-saving way to monitor the compliance records of their facilities scattered around the country.

To insure accuracy, EPA incorporated an on-line error reporting system in ECHO. Less than one percent of the facility reports were found to have compliance or enforcement data errors. Of 8,882 error notifications submitted, 93 percent have already been addressed.

EPA has made many site enhancements in response to public requests, such as doubling the number of facilities that can be returned in a Web search, allowing companies to create an “ID list”of facilities for automated monthly retrieval of status information, adding a users’ guide and improving explanations of the data. The Agency is continuing to develop additional enhancements to the site that will make it more useful and accessible to the general public.

Citizens without internet opportunities in their home are able to access the information at public libraries which provide free internet services.

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Some Public Comments on EPA’s ECHO Web Site
November 2002 - November 2003

12/24/2002
“Public access to this information will benefit both the regulated community as well as the public. Facilities that regularly comply with the law will have their records opened for all to see and their good track records can be lauded, while facilities that are often in violation of the law will be forced to explain their actions to the communities they harm the most, and thus will likely be more accountable.”
- Unaffiliated user
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01/09/2003
“I would like to voice my approval of the web site and hope that the EPA will choose to continue offering this service to the American People free of charge. I believe this web site can be used as a tool to better encourage polluters to change their act.”
- Unaffiliated user
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01/14/2003
“This looks to be an excellent resource and is a good example of how the web can be used to simplify regulation and make regulatory programs less burdensome.”
- Public interest group user
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01/14/2003
“This is a student's dream come true for research on local issues. Most helpful!”
- Academic user
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01/14/2003
“This is a wonderful site. It is very user friendly. Information is easily retrieved because of the logic of the format. Thanks for this!”
- Public interest group user
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01/14/2003
“This is a great way for people to evaluate how others look at them, etc. This will also cut down actual visits to a site in order to collect data--where one will be able to find the same via ECHO.”
- Regulated entity user
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01/22/2003
“I believe the ECHO site has a great deal of valuable information to offer patrons of my library, whether students in the Sciences or Political Science, or citizens using the Law Library which is also housed in our facility. Please retain and extend this site.”
- Academic user
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01/28/2003
“I think it is a good idea to have this information readily available to the public. For example, we recently went out for Household Hazardous Waste bids, and were able to look up the companies via their EPA ID# to see if there had been any violations in the past two years.”
- Local government user

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