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Use of TRI-MEweb by Reporting Facilities

2011 May 19

For Reporting Year (RY) 2009, approximately 94% of TRI facilities used the Toxics Release Inventory Made Easy Web (TRI-MEweb) application to report TRI data.  EPA believes  that each regulated facility can, or could potentially, gain access to the application since it is available at no charge over the Internet.

Informal feedback from facilities that are currently using TRI-MEweb to submit TRI data has generally been positive.  EPA is not aware of any problems inherent in the TRI-MEweb application that would prevent a facility from using it to submit TRI data.  If facilities have experienced any major problems in using TRI-MEweb, EPA would be interested in hearing about them.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

8 Responses
  1. Rich Kupiec permalink
    May 27, 2011

    I don’t think EPA has the authority from Congress to require or even allow electronic reporting of TRI. The language in EPCRA talks about forms. When Congress passed EPCRA in 1986, a form absolutely meant a piece of paper.

    I would suggest EPA go back to Congress and get the language of EPCRA revised to require electronic reporting. Why prolong this with comment periods, revised deadlines, and the lawsuits that occur during the rulemaking process?

    There are businesses without Internet access. Sometimes computer systems break down. I think EPA needs to permit regulated entities to submit a limited number of hardcopies of Form R’s and/or Form A’s. Sometimes paper is the appropriate technology.

  2. June 1, 2011

    I believe Rich correct in what he says about the EPA’a authority here.

  3. TRI Data User permalink
    June 1, 2011

    I think it is important to note that statutorily, there is no reference to a form being a paper form. When considering the added benefits to both the regulated community and the EPA that electronic filing offers (e.g., faster filing time, increased data quality, quicker turn around of data, etc), there really should be no point of contention here.

    Ultimately, EPCRA does not mandate a paper form be required as an option for TRI filers. Assuming Congress intended “form” to be a paper form is irrelevant as the true intention of EPCRA is that of an information disclosure program. To give the public access to information they might not otherwise have. There is no regulatory apparatus under EPCRA 313 requiring facilities to implement pollution reduction measures or even require them to monitor releases. The main intention was of the program was to provide data access. The elimination of paper based forms means quicker access to higher quality data, which was very much the intention of Congress during the creation of the Act.

    EPA’s transition to an electronic-based reporting requirement is already in process, as paper-based filers need to access the internet to utilize the new fillable files. Which EPA put out to reduce error and decrease costs associated with consolidating paper-based form data.

    Rich, your comment that this rulemaking will get tied up in law suits–would they be from the 6% of paper-filers without internet access? Ultimately, this program is about the community’s right-to-know, this rulemaking facilitates that concept. I completely support it.

  4. Rich Kupiec permalink
    June 6, 2011

    I think eliminating paper-filers is a good idea . . . a no brainer. I was just trying to say in my earlier post that there is not clear authority from Congress to require electronic reporting of TRI data, and that there is a potential for a lawsuit in the rule making process. I think having Congress revise the language of EPCRA is a more elegant solution than the rulemaking process.

    They talk about publishing a form is the statute. To a congressman or senator in 1986, how could this form be anything but a paper copy? Do remember how work use to get done before the Internet, mobile phones, PC’s, and fax machines? The TRI reports I prepared in 1988 were done on a typewriter.

    I don’t think you can pick and choose the intentions of Congress. Congress certainly intended that the public have access to TRI data. They also intended that EPA enter the data from the paper copies into an electronic database.

    I don’t think any of the paper filers will file a lawsuit. I think it would be filed by a trade group representing a portion of the other 94 percent. I don’t know what their motivation might be to obstruct this rule, but it only takes one lawsuit to delay it.

  5. TRI Data User permalink
    June 7, 2011

    I agree with you, it would be more elegant solution to revise the statutory language. However, in this current political climate the easier solution may be through a rulemaking.

    Despite the word paper not being mentioned, even if it was Congress’ intention that TRI forms be filed on paper–programs need to change and develop alongside current technologies. Congress mandated that EPA publish a form (a document with blank fields for the insertion of details) and the regulated community provide relevant data. As our technologies and capabilities progress, our everyday vernacular does so too–reading the statute in present day context, electronic reporting is not prohibited.

    Congress did not detail the methodology for implementing EPCRA 313 for the specific reason that the Agency is more capable and should have the ability to prescribe the form publication and submission methods.

    I hope lawsuits are not a consequence of this rulemaking. But if they did arise, I would imagine it would be from the regulatory language established by the Cross Media Electronic Reporting Rule. In order for TRI-MEdesktop/web to become reporting options, EPA had to abide by the requirements outlined in 40 CFR Part 3 (publish a notice in the FR). 40 CFR Part 3.2(c) maybe the only place that states that even if programs utilize this option, it does not require the submission of electronic documents in lieu of paper. But EPCRA328 does say the Administrator can prescribe such regulations as necessary to carry out the chapter—so I am curious to see how this all works out.

  6. Corporate Representative permalink
    June 8, 2011

    We have several facilities that report and have regular problems with the process. The TRI-ME program is not a problem. The CDX registration and getting the certifying official approved is a major problem. Every time we have and organizational change, we have to get a new person approved to electronically sign the report. When you are reporting one chemical and have to go through this cumbersome process every year, it is MUCH MUCH easier to use the paper form. Also, we have been trying for 5 years to get one of our certifying officials listed as “approved” and the HelpDesk can not fix the problem/error message/warning notice.

  7. Bill permalink
    June 10, 2011

    I find it hard to believe there are any companies out there that don’t have a computer and internet access. For those that haven’t used the TRI-ME web site you will find it much easier and quicker then filling out paper forms, especially in future years as it populates the current years form with the information from the previous year and you only have to make the changes to reflect what has changed at your facility. It saves time for all of us environmental types to do what we really should be doing, helping to preserve the environment for future generations.

  8. July 1, 2011

    The EPA has the authority to require electronic reporting of TRI data under the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA) and the EPA’s Cross-Media Electronic Reporting Regulation (CROMERR). The GPEA requires Federal agencies to provide for the “option of electronic maintenance, submission, or disclosure of information, when practicable as a substitute for paper.” The CROMERR provides the legal framework for electronic reporting for all EPA environmental regulations.

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