OMB presses EPA to improve pollution data

OMB presses EPA to improve pollution data

The Office of Management and Budget today asked the Environmental Protection Agency to expand online methods to speed and simplify distribution of information about the release of poisonous chemicals.

EPA has 60 days to respond to the nonbinding 'prompt letter,' an administrative tool invented by the Bush administration to alert agencies to high-priority issues, OMB's Information and Regulatory Affairs Office said.

The agency cited the pending release of a software tool that would speed reporting of data from the Toxic Release Inventory, an annual registry of industrial pollution, and reduce data-entry errors. EPA maintains the inventory using reports submitted by factories and other industrial and commercial sites.

TRI data releases have lagged behind data collection by as much as a year, OMB said.

'TRI data is widely used by communities and companies throughout the country, and has been credited with stimulating, through voluntary actions, a significant reduction in pollution from industrial facilities,' OIRA administrator John D. Graham said. 'The increased used of electronic reporting reduces the quality control burden on the agency and should allow quicker processing of the data for the public's benefit.'

EPA spokeswoman Diane Esanu said, 'EPA has developed an intelligent software program to improve the process called Toxic Release Inventory Made Easy, or TRIME.'

TRI ME allows businesses to prepare TRI reports electronically. According to EPA, the system would eliminate significant errors. 'By reducing errors, TRI ME will improve data quality,' Esanu said. She added that the system also would reduce processing time.

According to EPA plans, the agency tested TRI ME last year and will roll it out this year.

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