EPA Posts CAA, RCRA Compliance Data; Public Can Compare

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released new information on enforcement of hazardous waste and air regulations that allows the public, for the first time, to compare toxic releases with compliance data from facilities.

This is part of EPA's ongoing commitment to increase transparency and promote the public's right to know by improving access to available data.

The federal agency made available new summary reports and data from 2004 through 2008 on EPA and state enforcement program performance with Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requirements. The reports include online graphs, trend information on enforcement and compliance in each state, and comparative reports. Data such as compliance monitoring activity, violations discovered, enforcement actions taken, and penalties assessed are available.

EPA also updated the agency's Enforcement and Compliance Online (ECHO) Web site to allow users to view current information on facility compliance with water, air, and hazardous waste requirements in relation to pollutant release data from EPA's Toxics Release Inventory and National Emissions Inventory databases. This provides the public with more information on the overall environmental footprint of each facility.

In the agency's reviews of both EPA and state enforcement program performance, it identified several concerns with some programs, including uneven enforcement response, failure to identify high priority violators, and inadequate penalty assessment. The recommendations that EPA made on how to address these concerns are now available through the ECHO Web site.

ECHO allows users to find permit, compliance monitoring, violation, enforcement action, and penalty information over the past three years. ECHO provides communities with important enforcement and compliance information about regulated facilities. Included in the new information is a list of commonly asked questions about the CAA and RCRA programs, such as air quality, pollutant releases, state performance, and overall compliance rates.

The posted compliance data tells only one part of the story and does not relate directly to overall hazardous waste management or air quality, which have improved in the United States over the past 30 years as the result of local, state, and federal implementation of environmental programs.

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