Better Data for Better Environmental Protection

header-learn3_0As the Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Environmental Information, I am privileged to oversee the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program, one of EPA’s most potent incentive-based tools for tackling environmental challenges, especially when leveraged with other EPA expertise and data.

Each year, more than 20,000 facilities across a broad spectrum of industries provide EPA with information about their releases of toxic chemicals to the air, land, and water, as well as information about their pollution prevention successes.

In addition to its utility to communities and the broader public, the TRI Program’s wide-ranging, annual, multi-media data provides my staff and I with a wealth of opportunities in which to work together with other offices across the Agency to bring about positive environmental change.

For example, the TRI Program’s latest pollution prevention (P2) efforts have led both to a significant increase in the amount of voluntary information submitted to EPA and to a new pollution prevention tool. Thanks to the more abundant data and new tool, EPA’s P2 Program uses the tool to identify and share pollution prevention success stories and best practices.

We’re also utilizing the TRI Program in the following ways:

  • EPA’s Office of Water recently identified facilities of potential interest due to the nature and magnitude of their reported TRI releases.
  • EPA’s Air Office regularly uses TRI to cross-check data and fill in missing information for the National Emissions Inventory (NEI).
  • Many rulemakings use TRI data to inform rule content.
  • My office, the Office of Environmental Information, compares TRI data with data from across EPA programs for both in-house data quality efforts and to enable other offices, including the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, to follow up on findings relevant to their respective programs.
  • TRI data provides insights in the context of non-EPA data as well.  Various projects under the TRI University Challenge combine TRI data with data from such sources as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the Health Resources and Services Administration, the U.S. Census Bureau, and various state and local data to name a few.

I, and the rest of the TRI Program, look forward to continuing partnerships within and outside of EPA to use the transparency of TRI data as a means of propelling creative and cost-effective environmental progress.

Renee Wynn is EPA’s Acting Chief Information Officer and the Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Environmental Information, where she supports the agency’s mission to protect human health and the environment by providing high-quality, secure technology and information services.  Renee has over 23 years experience at the agency, including 15 years in the Superfund program.  She is a graduate of EPA’s SES Candidate Development Program and holds a BA in Economics from DePauw University.

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