[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 74 (Tuesday, April 18, 2006)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 19842-19848]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E6-5745]


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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

40 CFR Parts 260, 261, 262, 263, 264, 265, and 271

[EPA-HQ-RCRA-2001-0032; FRL-8159-3]
RIN 2050-AE21


Hazardous Waste Management System; Modification of the Hazardous 
Waste Manifest System

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency.

ACTION: Notice of data availability and request for comment.

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SUMMARY: This notice announces the availability of additional 
information on the electronic manifest (e-manifest ) project. 
Specifically, subsequent to EPA's proposal to develop a nearly 
paperless electronic approach for implementing the manifest 
requirements, EPA's Office of Solid Waste held a two-day public meeting 
to discuss and obtain public input on a national e-manifest system. The 
purpose of the meeting was to discuss with stakeholders our rulemaking 
progress and to solicit their input and preferences on the development 
and implementation of the e-manifest project. EPA also presented 
material on alternative information technology (IT) approaches to the 
e-manifest, including a centralized approach under which EPA would host 
a web-based national

[[Page 19843]]

system. As a result of these discussions and subsequent analysis of 
possible means to fund the development and operation of an e-manifest 
system, EPA now believes that a centralized, national e-manifest system 
is the preferred approach as we proceed with the rulemaking authorizing 
the use of electronic manifests. EPA will consider the data obtained 
from the public meeting and any new data from public comments received 
on this notice in making a final decision on whether to develop a 
national electronic manifest (e-manifest) system. Because the Agency 
expects to go final based on the comments it receives on this notice, 
as well as other comments received, any party interested in commenting 
on this action should do so at this time.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before June 19, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-
RCRA-2001-0032 by one of the following methods:
     www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line instructions for 
submitting comments.
     E-mail: rcra-docket@epa.gov.
     Fax: 202-566-0272
     Mail: Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Docket Center 
(EPA/DC), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Docket, 5305T, 
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20460. Please include a 
total of 3 copies.
     Hand Delivery: Public Reading Room, Room B102, EPA West 
Building, 1301 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC. Such 
deliveries are only accepted during the docket's normal hours of 
operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of 
boxed information.
    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-RCRA-
2001-0032. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included 
in the public docket without change and may be made available online at 
www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, 
unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential 
Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is 
restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to 
be CBI or otherwise protected through www.regulations.gov or e-mail. 
The www.regulations.gov Web site is an ``anonymous access'' system, 
which means EPA will not know your identity or contact information 
unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an e-
mail comment directly to EPA without going through www.regulations.gov, 
your e-mail address will be captured automatically and included as part 
of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available 
on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends 
that you include your name and other contact information in the body of 
your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read 
your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for 
clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic 
files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of 
encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses. For additional 
information about EPA's public docket visit the EPA Docket Center 
homepage at http://www.epa.gov/epahome/dockets.htm.
    Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the 
www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some 
information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information 
whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such 
as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in hard copy. 
Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically 
in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the Resource Conservation and 
Recovery Act (RCRA) Docket, EPA/DC, EPA West, Room B102, 1301 
Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC. The Public Reading Room is open 
from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal 
holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 
566-1744, and the telephone number for the Resource Conservation and 
Recovery Act (RCRA) Docket is (202) 566-0270. Copies cost $0.15/page.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information regarding 
specific aspects of this document, contact Richard LaShier, Office of 
Solid Waste, (703) 308-8796, lashier.rich@epa.gov, or Bryan Groce, 
Office of Solid Waste, (703) 308-8750, groce.bryan@epa.gov. Mail 
inquiries may be directed to the Office of Solid Waste, (5304W), 1200 
Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20460.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

A. Does This Rule Apply to Me?

    This rule would affect up to 139,000 entities in at least 45 
industries involved in shipping approximately 12 million tons of RCRA 
hazardous wastes annually (non-wastewaters and wastewaters), using 
between 2.4 and 5.1 million EPA Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifests (EPA 
Form 8700-22 and continuation sheets EPA Form 8700-22A). These entities 
include, but are not limited to: Hazardous waste generators; 
transporters; treatment, storage and disposal facilities (TSDFs); 
federal facilities; state governments; and governmental enforcement 
personnel dealing with hazardous waste transportation issues. If you 
have any questions regarding the applicability of this rule to a 
particular entity, consult the people listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.

B. What Should I Consider as I Prepare My Comments for EPA?

    1. Submitting CBI. Do not submit CBI information to EPA through 
www.regulations.gov or e-mail. Clearly mark the part or all of the 
information that you claim to be CBI. For CBI information on a disk or 
CD-ROM that you mail to EPA, mark the outside of the disk or CD-ROM as 
CBI and then identify electronically within the disk or CD-ROM the 
specific information that is claimed as CBI. In addition to one 
complete version of the comment that includes information claimed as 
CBI, a copy of the comment that does not contain the information 
claimed as CBI must be submitted for inclusion in the public docket. 
Information so marked will not be disclosed except in accordance with 
procedures set forth in 40 CFR Part 2.
    2. Tips for Preparing Your Comments. When submitting comments, 
remember to:
    Identify the rulemaking by docket number and other identifying 
information (subject heading, Federal Register date and page number).
    Follow directions--The agency may ask you to respond to specific 
questions or organize comments by referencing a Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR) part or section number.
    Explain why you agree or disagree; suggest alternatives and 
substitute language for your requested changes.
    Describe any assumptions and provide any technical information and/
or data that you used.
    If you estimate potential costs or burdens, explain how you arrived 
at your estimate in sufficient detail to allow for it to be reproduced.
    Provide specific examples to illustrate your concerns, and suggest 
alternatives.
    Explain your views as clearly as possible.
    Make sure to submit your comments by the comment period deadline 
identified.
    The contents of today's notice are listed in the following outline:

I . Background of E-Manifest System

[[Page 19844]]

    A. May 2001 Proposed Rule Standards and Approach
    B. Comments on the Proposal
    C. Stakeholder Meeting to Discuss Centralized Alternatives
    D. Collaboration with GSA and Stakeholders after May 2004
II. The Agency's General Approach to a Centralized E-Manifest System
    A. Conceptual Design of the E-Manifest
III . Request for Comments

I. Background of E-Manifest System

A. May 2001 Proposed Rule Standards and Approach

    On May 22, 2001, EPA published a notice of proposed rulemaking 
(NPRM) aimed at reducing the manifest system's paperwork burden on 
users, while enhancing the effectiveness of the manifest as a tool to 
track hazardous waste shipments from the site of generation to 
treatment, storage, or disposal facilities (TSDFs). The proposed rule 
included proposed manifest system reforms of two distinct types: (1) 
Revisions to the manifest form itself and the procedures for using the 
form; and (2) revisions to the paper-based manifest system aimed at 
replacing it with a nearly paperless electronic approach for 
completing, signing, transmitting and storing manifests, and tracking 
hazardous waste shipments (hereafter, e-manifest). The proposed e-
manifest regulation represented a decentralized approach in which EPA 
would issue several information technology (IT) standards, and private 
parties such as waste management firms and IT vendors would develop and 
market their own e-manifest systems complying with EPA's standards. The 
proposed standards addressed such areas as Electronic Data Interchange 
(EDI) transaction sets and mapping conventions, Extensible Markup 
Language (XML) representations of the manifest, electronic signature 
methods, and computer security standards that were viewed as necessary 
to ensure trustworthy systems and data that would be free from 
tampering or corruption. Significantly, under the proposed rule 
approach, EPA's role would be limited to the development of the e-
manifest standards, and the Agency would not have had any role in 
developing an IT system or in collecting electronic manifests.
    EPA explained in the 2001 proposed rule that it did not collect 
paper manifests from the public, nor did it intend in 2001 to create 
either a centralized reporting system for electronic manifests, nor a 
national data base for tracking manifest data. While the Agency desired 
to foster the development of electronic manifest systems by issuing 
national standards that would guide the system development efforts of 
private parties, EPA did not envision playing a role with respect to 
electronic manifesting that was any different from the standard-setting 
role the Agency had played in the past with respect to the Uniform 
Manifest paper form. However, public comments criticized the 
decentralized approach in our proposed rule and instead stated that the 
e-manifest system would be unreliable without a nationally centralized 
approach under which EPA would develop a single national IT system to 
host e-manifest services. Most stakeholders who attended our two-day 
public meeting in May 2004 also favored a centralized system for 
tracking hazardous waste shipments and transmitting/storing manifest 
data.

B. Comments on the Proposal

    EPA received 64 sets of public comments in response to the May 22, 
2001 proposed rule from hazardous waste generators, transporters, waste 
management firms, consultants, an information technology vendor and ten 
state hazardous waste management agencies. Commenters generally 
supported our goals of further standardizing the manifest form elements 
and reducing variability among the manifests that authorized RCRA State 
agencies currently distribute. However, there were a substantial number 
of comments that took issue with our proposed decentralized approach to 
the e-manifest, particularly with respect to the technical detail and 
prescriptiveness of the proposed regulatory standards, and the proposed 
rule's assumption that the regulated industry and IT vendors could or 
would develop private e-manifest systems adhering to EPA's standards. 
Other comments criticized the decentralized approach, because it was 
not viewed as being cost-effective and, therefore, only a few entities 
might be able to develop private systems, and these likely would be 
inconsistent with one another. Several of these commenters expressed 
the need for a nationally centralized approach, under which EPA would 
take on a more ambitious role by developing a single national IT system 
to host e-manifest services. The commenters believed that a national 
web-based system would provide a more consistent, secure, and cost-
effective platform for e-manifest services. They also believed that a 
national system would offer greater benefits to users and regulators, 
such as one-stop manifest reporting, more effective oversight and 
enforcement of the manifest requirements, nearly real-time tracking 
services for waste shippers and receivers, and the possible 
consolidation of duplicative State and Federal systems now in place to 
collect and manage manifest data and similar waste receipt data 
collected for biennial reporting purposes. They believed that a 
centralized e-manifest approach would result in the development of a 
consistent, interoperable and secure IT system that would offer more 
benefits than would result from the operation of several decentralized 
private systems.
    The comments addressing the e-manifest proposal raised significant 
substantive issues that, in our opinion, required further analysis and 
stakeholder outreach prior to adopting a final approach. Therefore, in 
developing final actions on the May 2001 proposed rule, EPA separated 
the e-manifest from the form revisions portion of the rulemaking. We 
announced our final rule approach with respect to the manifest form 
revisions in the March 4, 2005 Federal Register (70 FR 10776).

C. Stakeholder Meeting To Discuss Centralized Alternatives

    EPA announced in the Federal Register that the Office of Solid 
Waste was holding a two-day public meeting on May 19-20, 2004, to 
discuss and obtain public input on the e-manifest issue (69 FR 17145, 
April 1, 2004). The purpose of this meeting was to engage interested 
stakeholders in an exchange of ideas aimed at helping us identify how 
best to proceed with selecting and implementing the future direction of 
the e-manifest. The two-day meeting provided us with invaluable 
information, all of which is available in the docket to today's notice. 
Specifically, we heard from the attendees at the meeting that there is 
a strong consensus in favor of implementing a centralized e-manifest 
system. However, views varied on whether a national system should be 
privately or publicly hosted and funded or developed as a joint public/
private venture. For instance, some stakeholders suggested that EPA 
design and operate both the e-manifest ``front end'' interface that 
would supply and process manifests during the movement of waste 
shipments in transportation, as well as the ``back end'' repository 
component of the system that would collect and archive official copies 
of completed manifests. Others favored an approach where the e-manifest 
``front end'' interface might be designed, funded, and operated by a 
private consortium. The consortium then would look to EPA to clarify 
what is necessary

[[Page 19845]]

to constitute a valid electronic manifest transaction (e.g., by 
defining the legal and performance standards for such a system, as well 
as the auditing requirements) and perhaps to develop and operate the 
``back end'' repository.
    Second, all the attendees of the meeting believed that a central 
service provider, whether it be EPA, a private entity, or a public/
private combination, must be reliable and trusted if a centralized e-
manifest system is to be successful. The stakeholders expect a 
trustworthy system operated with minimal downtime so that it would not 
disrupt or inconvenience waste handler operations. They also noted that 
a governance structure enabling regular interactions between the user 
community, the IT vendor, and government interests would be necessary 
to ensure that the system is developed and operated in a manner that 
meets the needs and expectations of all affected interests.
    Third, stakeholders from the user community who attended the 
meeting emphasized that a centralized e-manifest system should be 
optional and, thus, able to accommodate those manifest users who want 
to continue to use paper manifests in the future. On the other hand, 
the IT vendor community would prefer to have EPA mandate that users 
access the centralized e-manifest system to complete and transmit all 
their manifests, particularly if the vendor community will be asked to 
bid on a centralized e-manifest system development contract, so that 
there would be greater certainty for the vendor attempting to price e-
manifest services, based on the size of the e-manifest market and 
expected volumes of use. (Note: See discussion in Section I.D for 
further explanation of this.) EPA, at this time, believes that the 
savings to be realized by those users who complete significant 
quantities of manifests will provide sufficient incentives for these 
users to commit to the e-manifest voluntarily, without a mandate from 
EPA that might be disruptive to or cause hardship for other users. EPA 
recognizes that a key ingredient in any procurement process where the 
vendor community will be bidding on such a task that leads to the 
development and successful operation of the centralized e-manifest 
system will be a dialogue between the user community and the vendors 
bidding on the task. This dialogue is necessary to develop mutual 
understandings about likely levels of usage and likely e-manifest 
transmission volumes, so that the vendor may accurately project these 
parameters and price its services accordingly. Nevertheless, the Agency 
specifically solicits comments on whether the use of the e-manifest 
should be mandatory or voluntary. In providing comments, we ask that 
you include your rationale and any supporting data regarding this 
matter. In addition, we also solicit comment from the states, as well 
as other stakeholders, as to whether a centralized e-manifest system 
that is voluntary will require the states to maintain two separate 
manifest systems, and, if so, what concerns or problems this may raise.
    Finally, and most significantly, the user community indicated at 
the May 2004 stakeholder meeting that it is willing to help fund the 
establishment and operation of an e-manifest system through the payment 
of reasonable service or transactional fees for e-manifest services. 
Stakeholders stated that they would be willing to pay reasonable 
service fees as the means to fund the establishment of a national e-
manifest system, if they could be assured that the collected fees would 
be earmarked to the payment of the e-manifest system costs only, and 
not deflected to other program accounts or costs. Stakeholders also 
stated that they expect service fee arrangements, including the 
collection of any such fees and the reporting of expenditures, to be 
handled in a very transparent manner so that stakeholders can be 
assured that they are receiving value for the fees they contribute to 
the system. The full proceedings for this meeting have been posted on 
our EPA Web site at http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/gener/
manifest/e-man.htm. Comments from stakeholders about a centralized e-
manifest system have been submitted to the RCRA docket (EPA Docket 
(Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-RCRA-2001-0032)), which can be found at http://
www.epa.gov/edocket.
    Since the May 2004 stakeholder meeting, we have been exploring 
whether there is a way for EPA to proceed with the development of a 
nationally-centralized e-manifest system, as well as exploring in more 
detail the design and performance requirements of any such system. 
While the notion of a centralized e-manifest system has strong appeal 
to states and industry, it would require adequate funding to build and 
operate.
    In 2000 to 2002, we estimated the initial start-up cost for the 
design, development and installation, plus the future annual operating 
and maintenance (O&M) cost, for a ``centralized'' e-manifest IT system 
procurement. This cost estimate is based on a benefit-cost analysis 
conducted by Logistics Management Institute, Inc. (LMI). LMI's study is 
dated September 20, 2002, and is available for public review (with 
accompanying spreadsheet file) in the docket cited above in the 
ADDRESSES section. This study is an expansion of LMI's October 2000 
initial benefit-cost study in support of our May 22, 2001 proposed rule 
for the e-manifest (http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/gener/
manifest/pdf/cba-rprt.pdf). The 2002 LMI study estimated the benefits 
and costs associated with three alternative e-manifest data flow 
configurations (i.e., electronic system options), all involving hosting 
the e-manifest on EPA's existing CDX computer hub (http://www.epa.gov/
cdx), and connecting the central e-manifest system electronically to 
industrial facilities and to state governments via EPA's partnership 
National Environmental Information Exchange Network (NEIEN; http://
www.exchangenetwork.net), which is operational in 38 states as of 
October 2005. The estimated cost for e-manifest system start-up ranges 
from $2.0 million to $7.0 million in the initial year, plus $0.8 
million to $3.2 million per year for future annual operation and 
maintenance (O&M). In addition to this system cost, industrial 
facilities are expected to spend upwards of $60.2 million to $68.8 
million, and state governments upwards of $2.3 million to $3.1 million, 
in start-up costs for modifying existing IT systems to process e-
manifests (assuming 100% participation in the centralized e-manifest 
system). Industrial facilities and state governments also may spend 
upwards of $32.2 million to $37.0 million in annual future costs for 
apportionment of a fraction of existing business IT system costs for e-
manifesting purposes. Although there appear to be substantial initial 
and recurring annual costs associated with e-manifesting, the expected 
average annual reduction in paperwork burden for handling the current 
paper manifest forms that e-manifest will provide industrial facilities 
and state governments is expected to offset these costs by a net annual 
savings upwards of $103 million per year.
    While an e-manifest would lead to significant savings, EPA 
recognizes, as described above, that startup and maintenance costs of a 
centralized e-manifest system could require considerable funds. EPA 
believes that the costs of this system should be shared by entities 
that will benefit from it. Therefore, EPA has been examining various 
user-fee and other IT funding alternatives within the context of OSW's 
May 2004 stakeholder meeting (http://

[[Page 19846]]

www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/gener/manifest/present/funding.pdf).

D. Collaboration With GSA and Stakeholders After May 2004

    One approach the Agency explored closely as a means to fund and 
implement the centralized e-manifest system was the Share-in-Savings 
(SiS) contract approach that was authorized under the E-Government Act 
of 2002 (E-Gov Act). We consulted with the General Services 
Administration (GSA), which managed the E-Gov Act Share-in-Savings 
program, on a possible procurement action that might have enabled the 
centralized e-manifest system to be developed and operated for EPA by 
an IT vendor under a ``Share-in-Savings'' (SiS) type contract (http://
www.gsa.gov/shareinsavings). The SiS IT contracting mechanism was 
authorized under the E-Gov Act of 2002 on a provisional basis as an 
innovative tool for Federal agencies to develop new IT systems with 
little direct Federal investment. The premise of the SiS contracting 
approach was that the IT vendor awarded an SiS contract would build the 
IT system at the vendor's initial expense, and then recover its costs 
and profit from the cost savings or enhanced revenue that results to 
the sponsoring agency from the new IT system. With this approach, for 
example, the successful e-manifest IT contractor would have incurred 
the initial financial risk and outlay to build the centralized e-
manifest system to meet EPA's performance objectives, and then would 
have recovered its costs and earned its agreed profit from the revenue 
stream generated by the service fees paid by the users for manifest 
transactions.
    GSA established an SiS contract vehicle (i.e., blanket purchase 
agreement or BPA) under which GSA qualified six IT vendors to compete 
for Federal IT projects during FY 2005. While EPA was very interested 
in initiating a procurement action under the GSA Share-in-Savings BPA 
during FY 2005, we and GSA concluded that the procurement action should 
not proceed until there was in place a final rule authorizing the use 
of electronic manifests. Unfortunately, the initial Congressional 
authorization for the SiS program expired on September 30, 2005, and it 
does not now appear that the authority for this program will be 
extended. While the expiration of the SiS program introduces some 
uncertainty about the funding arrangements for the national e-manifest 
system, the Agency is aware that some Congressional representatives are 
considering legislative proposals that would provide the Agency with 
the authority, including perhaps user fee authority, to implement a 
centralized e-manifest system. Thus, we are proceeding with this 
regulatory action so that we can proceed in the future with the 
necessary contract actions that would lead to the development of a 
national e-manifest system, provided that appropriate authorizing 
legislation is enacted in the interim. Should the necessary authorizing 
legislation not materialize, EPA could decide to adopt a final e-
manifest rule that is based on the proposed rule approach, if we 
determine that such an approach is better than no e-manifest system, or 
another approach that is not dependent on new federal funding 
legislation being authorized. EPA's current schedule would have its 
final regulation authorizing the use of electronic manifests in place 
in time to enable us to award a contract in FY 2007, assuming any 
legislation needed to address the funding of e-manifest is enacted 
within that timeframe.

II. The Agency's General Approach to a Centralized E-Manifest System

    Based on information provided at the May 2004 public meeting and 
discussions with our stakeholders during and subsequent to this 
meeting, EPA believes that the vast majority of stakeholders support an 
e-manifest system. They also prefer a consistent national framework for 
supplying, preparing, transmitting and maintaining e-manifests. 
Stakeholders attending the public meeting also indicated that they are 
willing to pay fees for their electronic manifest transactions in order 
to develop and maintain a centralized e-manifest system.
    EPA agrees with the position, from commenters to the May 2001 
proposal and from stakeholder participants in the May 2004 public 
meeting, that a centralized e-manifest system is the preferred approach 
for developing an electronic manifest system. First, we are concerned 
that the user participation in the decentralized approach for an e-
manifest system is limited to some extent by the customers' 
relationships to firms that elect to establish e-manifest systems. 
There should not be similar concerns about user participation in the 
centralized e-manifest system since it would be developed to serve all 
interested users, and participation would be open to all those with 
Internet access who choose to access the system or who deal with waste 
handlers who provide access to the system.
    Second, our preferred approach is the more effective means to 
address concerns that arise under the decentralized approach about the 
potential inability of different systems to operate with each other, as 
well as other concerns that arise regarding whether data from these 
different systems can be exchanged and processed consistently. A final 
rule adopting a decentralized e-manifest approach would require, among 
other things, rigorous standards to address the consistent processing 
and interoperability issues posed by multiple vendors' systems. Such an 
approach would likely involve a process to evaluate the various systems 
to determine if they are in compliance with our interoperability and 
system security standards. In contrast, a centralized approach would 
not need to address interoperability concerns, as the development of a 
single, national e-manifest system would ensure the consistency of the 
processing, completion, and transmission of electronic manifests. 
Moreover, the centralized approach would simplify the execution of 
system and data security with respect to e-manifests, as the necessary 
security requirements could be addressed within the national e-manifest 
procurement process, rather than as detailed regulatory standards that 
would have to be met by the various vendors who might develop systems 
under the decentralized approach.
    Third, other capabilities and enhancements could be realized 
through a centralized e-manifest system that are not possible under a 
decentralized approach. For instance, a centralized e-manifest system 
could be designed to store electronic manifest data centrally in a 
national data repository, so that manifest users and regulators could 
extract the stored manifest data to develop analyses from that data. 
Such a national data repository could collect manifest data from both 
domestic and transboundary waste movements, and it could also become a 
basis for easing the production of reports under RCRA biennial 
reporting requirments (the Hazardous Waste Report) and other reports 
that are required under authorized state programs. The manifest users 
who now must incur the burden and expense of supplying paper copies of 
manifest forms through the mail to individual authorized states could 
instead submit their manifest copies one time electronically to one 
centralized hub system, which would distribute copies as needed to 
interested states through their nodes on the Exchange Network. In 
addition to this one-stop submission feature, the users may be able to 
maintain their official copies of

[[Page 19847]]

manifest records on secure storage sites on the national system, rather 
than continuing to retain manifest copies locally. We believe that the 
centralized collection of manifest copies by the e-manifest system 
would also afford advantages to RCRA inspectors by providing a simple 
and efficient means for accessing and inspecting manifest records 
electronically.
    Therefore, today's notice announces that EPA's preferred approach, 
at this time, for proceeding with the e-manifest rule is to develop a 
centralized web-based IT system that EPA will host on its IT 
architecture. This national system likely would be funded, in whole or 
in part, by service fees that would be paid to EPA or its contractor. 
This notice discusses a conceptual design of the nationally-centralized 
e-manifest system and requests comment on our approach.
    Today, we are announcing that EPA intends to develop a final rule 
to authorize the use of electronic manifests that are created and 
transmitted through the use of a centralized e-manifest system. EPA 
will consider the comments received pursuant to this notice, along with 
comments on the e-manifest proposal in the May 2001 proposed rule and 
the May 2004 Stakeholder meeting, as we prepare a final rule on the e-
manifest. The final rule would amend existing manifest regulations 
which require manifests to be created only as paper forms. These 
regulatory changes would be necessary to ensure that electronic 
manifests are as valid as the traditional paper manifests that are 
signed with ink and manually processed and transmitted. The usage of 
EPA's national e-manifest system to obtain and process valid electronic 
manifests would be the key component of the final rule.
    EPA believes that as a result of this change in approach for the e-
manifest system, the final regulation authorizing the use of electronic 
manifests would be much simpler than the regulation suggested by the 
May 2001 proposed rule. The final rulemaking will be constrained in its 
scope to authorizing the use of electronic manifests created and 
transmitted in the national system, and to several other key policy 
issues that must be resolved prior to implementation. EPA thus expects 
to limit, as far as possible, the subject matter of the final rule on 
electronic manifesting to the key policy issues associated with 
authorizing the use of electronic manifests and with implementing the 
electronic manifest as a means of tracking hazardous waste shipments 
and recording and transmitting waste shipment information. EPA believes 
it is far more sensible to address the more detailed technical system 
design and performance requirements for the centralized e-manifest 
system within the contracting process than to codify performance 
requirements and other technical matters within the rulemaking process. 
We also recognize that State participation and input during the 
planning stage of the e-manifest development process is critical, 
because there will be significant implementation issues associated with 
moving to an electronic manifest system. EPA will work closely with our 
State partners as we develop both the final rulemaking and the detailed 
system design and performance requirements.

A. Conceptual Design of the E-Manifest

    The centralized e-manifest system will include the necessary 
applications and components to supply, complete, electronically sign, 
transmit, and retain electronic manifests. The centralized e-manifest 
system that will be developed initially will provide only the core 
services necessary to manage the basic waste shipment tracking and 
waste data collection functions of the manifest process, including 
manifest creation, completion, signing, routing and communication 
services (i.e., services required to create, view, update, transmit, 
and close manifests) and the collection, distribution, and archiving of 
official manifest records. In accordance with requests expressed by 
stakeholders in the May 2004 public meeting, the system initially will 
not support any more advanced reporting or business integration 
services. The system would be designed with scalability so that 
additional EPA reporting functions (e.g., Biennial Report integration 
or transboundary waste reporting), or additional commercial services 
that may be desired by users could be added as future upgrades. The 
development of the e-manifest system will use a web services-oriented 
architecture and will be hosted on EPA's CDX (http://www.epa.gov/cdx) 
and NEIEN architecture. The CDX would act as the Agency's central 
reporting hub for receiving, processing, and routing the in-bound 
electronic manifests to waste shipment management entities and to state 
governments. As the e-manifest would be hosted within our CDX/Exchange 
Network architecture, the submission of e-manifests to the national 
system would be governed by the standards and procedures included in 
EPA's Cross Media Electronic Reporting Rule (CROMERR), which EPA 
published in the Federal Register on October 13, 2005 (70 FR 59847). 
The CROMERR Rule provides the legal and policy framework for electronic 
reporting to the CDX hub, and will address such matters as user 
registration, user authentication, execution of electronic signatures, 
and the procedures for producing records of electronic manifest 
submissions.
    We believe that the use of a services-oriented architecture 
involving web services applications will enable a high level of 
interoperability with users' legacy and future system investments. 
Thus, EPA plans to develop the e-manifest applications in conformance 
with Internet ``web services'' standards which now are supported by 
CDX. Also, schemas (i.e., models for describing the structure of 
information within a document to allow machine validation of document 
structure) and stylesheets developed in the Extensible Mark-up Language 
(XML) will be the means EPA will use for the electronic exchange of e-
manifest data, and these XML documents will conform to the data 
elements of the hazardous waste manifest (EPA Form 8700-22) and 
continuation sheet (EPA Form 8700-22A) that EPA recently announced in 
the March 4, 2005 Form Revisions final rule (70 FR 10776).
    EPA further will develop the e-manifest applications with the 
appropriate access controls to ensure that only authorized users may 
enter the system, complete and sign manifests, and access manifest 
data. We plan to limit access to particular manifest records and 
related data to only those entities that are involved with the handling 
of a waste shipment, as well as to RCRA regulators. The centralized e-
manifest system also will support, as far as possible, the provision of 
reliable and uninterrupted manifest services to the user community and 
will adopt necessary measures and controls that meet EPA and Federal 
policies for protecting information security, privacy, and confidential 
business information (CBI).
    The Federal regulations concerning CBI are found at 40 CFR Part 2. 
Confidential business information obtained under the Resource 
Conservation and Recovery Act is handled in accordance with 40 CFR Part 
2, and will be disclosed by EPA only to the extent allowed by, and by 
means of, the procedures set forth in 40 CFR Part 2. Anyone wishing to 
claim that some or all of the information provided in their Uniform 
Hazardous Waste Manifest is confidential business information must make 
this claim at the time the manifest is transmitted electronically to 
EPA. Claims of confidentiality must be specific: The generator, 
transporter, or designated

[[Page 19848]]

facility must clearly indicate which manifest item number is being 
declared confidential (e.g., Item 18a.). Any information not claimed as 
confidential when being submitted will not be treated as confidential 
business information.

III. Request for Comments

    EPA requests comments on the approach described in today's notice 
for electronically completing and transmitting manifests through a 
national, centralized e-manifest system. EPA will consider the comments 
received pursuant to this notice, along with comments on the e-manifest 
proposal in the May 2001 proposed rule and the May 2004 Stakeholder 
meeting, as it prepares a final rule on the e-manifest.

    Dated: April 11, 2006.
Susan Parker Bodine,
Assistant Administrator, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.
 [FR Doc. E6-5745 Filed 4-17-06; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6560-50-P