EPA Releases Enforcement Data Online

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be accepting public comments for the next 60 days on its newly released pilot website -- Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) -- that allows the retrieval of enforcement and compliance information for over 800,000 regulated facilities, as announced in the Federal Register on Nov. 20th. Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) is a web interface that pulls information from the Integrated Data for Enforcement Analysis (IDEA) database, which consists of many different databases of enforcement information that EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) collects and maintains. EPA held a briefing before ECHO was launched in order to preview the site for representatives from industry, environmental and public interest groups, as well as other interested parties. EPA officials, including OECA Administrator J.P. Suarez, made it clear that they view ECHO as an important tool for the public to access environmental information, and hope to enhance it in the future to better suit the public's needs. For this reason OMB Watch encourages interested users to explore the site and provide comments to EPA. EPA worked with the States through the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) to ensure the accuracy of the data. However, within the ECHO system EPA includes an easy error correction process for those who wish to contest the accuracy of the data. Once an error correction claim is filed, it will be sent to one of 125 EPA data stewards across the country who have agreed to conduct the error correction process. Each data steward will look into the alleged error and communicate directly with the filer to resolve any errors, hopefully within 30 to 60 days. For facilities regulated under the Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), ECHO includes the following types of data:
  • Name and address of each facility,
  • Facility characteristics (type of permit, latitude, longitude, etc.),
  • Inspection History (two year history),
  • Compliance Status/Violations (two year history by quarter),
  • Formal enforcement actions (two year history),
  • EPA enforcement cases (two year history),
  • Environmental conditions,
  • Demographic profile of surrounding area (up to 5 miles) compiled from census data for environmental justice concerns.
From the ECHO homepage a user may choose to search by zip code, city and state, media (air, water, soil), facility name, facility standard industrial classification code (SIC), permit identification number, EPA Region number, inspection/enforcement history, compliance information, or by demographic profile. The information on ECHO will be updated monthly through the IDEA system. IDEA has been available to the public since 1990 for registered users but it is not very user-friendly and does not compile data across databases – which led to the need for a system like ECHO.
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