[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 191 (Tuesday, October 4, 2005)]
[Notices]
[Pages 57871-57872]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-19709]


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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

[FRL-7532-9]


Toxics Release Inventory 2006 Burden Reduction

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: EPA's Toxics Release Inventory Program is today announcing its 
intent to explore potential approaches for modification of the 
reporting frequency of facilities that report to TRI. Among the options 
to be considered is alternate year reporting, which would require 
Congressional notification as discussed in section 313(i) of the 
Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know-Act (EPCRA). EPA has 
notified Congress, as required by this provision, of its intent to 
initiate a rulemaking to modify TRI reporting frequency. Today's notice 
is in addition to the Agency's recent proposal, Toxics Release 
Inventory Burden Reduction Proposed Rule elsewhere in Today's Federal 
Register, designed to reduce reporting burden on facilities reporting 
to TRI by increasing eligibility for the Form A Certification 
Statement.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Suzanne Ackerman, 
ackerman.suzanne@epa.gov, 202-564-4355, Office of Public Affairs. 
Details and additional information will also be posted on EPA's TRI Web 
site, http://www.epa.gov/tri, as they become available.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In the coming months, the Agency will give 
consideration to additional measures that would provide burden relief 
to TRI reporting facilities on an every other year basis. These options 
may include a modification in reporting frequency as discussed in EPCRA 
section 313(i). 42 U.S.C. 11023(i). In order to modify TRI reporting 
frequency, section 313(i) of EPCRA requires EPA to make a finding that 
modifying the reporting frequency is consistent with the purposes of 
the TRI as listed in section 313(h) of EPCRA. See, 42 U.S.C. 11023(h). 
This finding must be based on previous experience gained from past TRI 
reporting, the extent to which the public has used TRI data, the extent 
to which information is readily available from other sources and the 
extent to which the change would impose additional and unreasonable 
burdens on reporting facilities. 42 U.S.C. 11023(i)(2)-(3). As outlined 
in EPCRA, the Agency must first notify Congress of its intent to 
initiate a rulemaking to modify the reporting frequency. After 
notifying Congress, EPA must delay initiating the rulemaking for 12 
months but no more than 24 months. In following the process described 
in EPCRA to make such a change, the Agency recently notified Congress 
of its intent to initiate a rulemaking to modify the reporting 
frequency. EPA's Assistant Administrator Kimberly T. Nelson mailed the 
letter below to the following individuals: The Honorable Richard B. 
Cheney, President, United States Senate, The Honorable William H. 
Frist, Majority Leader, United States Senate, The Honorable Harry Reid, 
Minority Leader, United States Senate, The Honorable J. Dennis Hastert, 
Speaker, United States House of Representatives, The Honorable Tom 
DeLay, Majority Leader, United States House of Representatives, The 
Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader, United States House of 
Representatives, and The Honorable David M. Walker, Comptroller General 
of the United States, Government Accountability Office.
    Since the late 1980s, the United States (U.S.) Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA) Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program has been 
an important source of public information on releases of toxic 
chemicals and a successful tool in our efforts at promoting pollution 
prevention. Under Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community 
Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986, facilities annually report data to 
EPA on releases and transfers of certain listed toxic chemicals, which 
EPA compiles and makes available to the public. The Pollution 
Prevention Act (PPA) of 1990

[[Page 57872]]

expanded the program to include information on other waste management 
activities such as recycling of chemicals. In addition, EPA has several 
times expanded the scope of the program by rulemaking by doubling the 
number of covered chemicals, adding seven industrial sectors, and 
significantly lowering reporting thresholds for chemicals identified as 
persistent, bioaccumlative and toxic (PBT). EPA believes that each of 
these expansions has increased the usefulness of the TRI data to the 
public and furthered the statutory goals of the program.
    Over the years, EPA has been mindful of the reporting burden this 
program imposes on covered facilities. In 1994, EPA introduced ``Form 
A'' to streamline reporting for small dischargers. In July of this 
year, we finalized a rule that would revise the TRI reporting forms to 
eliminate information not used, simplify reporting codes and improve 
the accuracy of facility identification and location data by using the 
data already available in EPA's information systems. In addition, EPA 
will soon publish a proposed rule to expand the use of Form A to allow 
more facilities to use the short form while retaining the full Form R 
reporting on over 99% of releases and other waste management 
activities. Both of these efforts involved extensive consultations with 
all program stakeholders and help address the concerns expressed about 
the reporting burden under TRI.
    The purpose of this letter is to inform you of the third and final 
phase of our current efforts to reduce burden and streamline program 
operations. Specifically, we believe a rulemaking to modify the 
reporting frequency from annual to biennial deserves further 
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. EPCRA Sec 313(i) authorizes EPA to 
make such a modification, but only after providing at least one-year's 
advance notification to Congress before initiating a rulemaking and 
only after making several specific findings, which we address below. 
Accordingly, we are notifying you that we plan to initiate a rulemaking 
to consider modifications to the reporting frequency for the TRI 
program within 12 to 24 months after the date of this letter. Over the 
next 12 months, EPA plans to continue its consultations with 
stakeholders in order to gather the data necessary to support the 
statutory determinations required under the law and to ensure the 
rulemaking appropriately balances the needs of data users with the 
concerns of data reporters and states.
    We are taking this step because we believe that alternate year 
reporting not only offers burden reduction, but also offers other 
potential advantages that merit consideration. First, EPA and states 
would be able to use the saved resources from the non-reporting years 
to improve the TRI database and conduct additional analyses that would 
enhance the value of the data to the public. For example, EPA could 
enhance its TRI reporting software, TRI-Made Easy, thereby improving 
data quality and consistency; conduct analyses of data trends, sector 
or chemical specific patterns of waste management, innovations in 
pollution prevention, and risk implications of toxic chemical releases 
thereby making the TRI data more useful to citizens, communities, 
researchers and government agencies; and improve its web-based software 
to make the data more accessible and user friendly and to improve 
opportunities for Internet-based reporting. Internet reporting provides 
savings not only to reporters, but also to taxpayers as it reduces EPA 
and State processing costs and allows us to meet Paperwork Reduction 
and Electronic Government requirements. It also provides greater 
confidence to both reporters and data users in the integrity of the 
data by increasing the use of electronic data quality checks.
    Alternate year reporting would provide more simplified burden 
reduction to TRI reporters than many options previously considered. For 
instance, a common complaint about Form A is that it requires a 
significant amount of time to track and calculate data to determine 
eligibility. Alternate year reporting, in contrast, would eliminate in 
non-reporting years all burden for eligible reporters. Although EPA 
believes that a carefully structured alternate year reporting provision 
could provide substantial benefits to both data users and data 
reporters, EPA also recognizes that there will be legitimate concerns 
about data loss during the non-reporting years and will carefully 
consider those concerns as we develop any proposals for public comment 
and consideration.
    EPA will be examining the impact on data users carefully as it 
addresses the statutory requirements for modifying reporting frequency. 
Specifically, EPCRA requires one finding and three determinations 
before changing the reporting frequency. The required finding is that 
any modification is consistent with the intended uses of the TRI data 
as described in Sec 313(h), while the determinations are designed to 
ensure that EPA give full consideration to: (1) The impact of the 
modifications on data users, including State and local governments, 
health professionals, the general public, other federal agencies and 
EPA itself; (2) the availability of the data from other sources; and 
(3) the impact of the modifications on data reporters. EPA intends to 
gather data related to these issues during the next 12 months, prior to 
initiating a rulemaking.
    EPA believes that this action will enhance data quality and user 
friendliness by supplementing existing data with additional analysis. 
EPA looks forward to working with all stakeholders in the coming year 
to gather the necessary information to ensure that any modification of 
TRI reporting frequency considers the needs of TRI data users and will 
consider a range of options to minimize impacts.
    Enclosed for your benefit is a fact sheet with more details about 
the TRI program. Should you have any questions or would like to provide 
your views, please contact me at 202-564-6665 or your staff may contact 
James Blizzard in EPA's Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental 
Relations.

    Dated: September 21, 2005.
Kimberly T. Nelson,
Assistant Administrator for Office of Environmental Information and, 
Chief Information Officer.
[FR Doc. 05-19709 Filed 10-3-05; 8:45 am]
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