EPA Wants to Modernize Regulatory Reporting

A press release from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows how archaic some of our systems still are – pretty surprising.

Just as Obama’s plan to convert US medical records from paper to electronic has been a big deal, the EPA is proposing an analogous system for regulatory reporting.

The EPA announced a new rule that "modernizes" the Clean Water Act by requiring electronic reporting instead of using paper.

Believe it or not, currently facilities required to report submit data in paper form to states and other regulatory authorities, afterwhich the information is entered manually into databases.

All municipalities, industrial and commercial facilities that discharge wastewater directly into US waters have to first get a permit. Once permitted, they have to monitor and report on pollutant discharges and take other actions to ensure discharges don’t negatively impact human health or the environment. 

Hundreds of thousands of municipalities, industries, and other facilities report each year. 

Water: industrial discharge

Besides making it easier and cheaper to comply, tons of information will immediately be available to the public.

All facility-specific information, such as inspection and enforcement history, pollutant monitoring results, and other data required by permits will be on EPA’s website.

"In addition to dramatically cutting costs for states and other regulatory authorities, the e-reporting rule will substantially expand transparency by making it easier for everyone to quickly access critical data on pollution that may be affecting communities," says Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

"The e-reporting rule will also allow states and other regulatory authorities to focus limited resources on the most serious water quality problems, which will lead to increased compliance, improved water quality, and a level playing field for the regulated community," she says.

After the rule is finalized, facilities will have a year to make the switch and two years for those with limited access to the Internet. The EPA will also work with states to help them  develop or enhance state electronic reporting capabilities. They will even hold webinars to help all involved to better understand the rule. 

The EPA has been ranked as the most effective federal government agency.
 
The public can comment on the proposed rule for 90 days after publication. Will Republicans challenge this new rule?:

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Comments on “EPA Wants to Modernize Regulatory Reporting”

  1. TRP Corp

    With more companies moving to web-based response planning, it is good to see government regulators following suit!The cost savings has been apparent to companies for years!

    Reply

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