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Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The enactment of S. 710 will enable the EPA to employ current technology to sharply reduce paperwork regulatory requirements at the same time it makes crucial information more accessible for States, first responders, and the public.

When people create hazardous waste, we require them to carefully track the movement and disposition. That way we know that, when a drum full of some hazardous waste is removed from a factory, the same amount winds up where it belongs--in a proper disposal facility--and that none of it is tossed into a sewer or a vacant lot. But for years, guaranteeing this actually happened meant keeping up with the reporting requirement--filling out multiple copies of paper forms and mailing them to the EPA and State officials, as well as keeping paper copies at each place of business.

The inefficiency of this system in today's electronic business-to-business world certainly stands out to anyone. In fact, we learned of a case when first responders arrived at the scene of a chemical plant fire and they needed to know what substances were inside the plant before they started fighting the fire. In the whole city, the only copies of the forms identifying the hazardous waste were inside the building and were consumed in the fire. Now, there has got to be a better way.

With an electronic system, instead of filling out long forms and mailing them, the critically needed data, with a few computer key strokes, can be sent wherever it is needed. State regulators, first responders, and others will be able to pull it up on their computers and track the materials in real time. The changeover will not only save millions of dollars for regulated businesses, but quite frankly, it will save lives. So, even though the e-manifest system in S. 710 is funded by user fees, I want to note it will not be a burden on small businesses. Users pay only when and to the extent they file manifests. Otherwise, the new system will work like the old paper system, where the process to identify discrepancies in shipments is preserved.

Mr. Speaker, S. 710 was a good bill when it arrived here from the other body, but we made it better. First, we converted it from so-called ``mandatory'' spending to ``discretionary.'' That will allow our colleagues on the Appropriations Committees an annual chance to review the program and make sure that money collected from users and money spent on the system is only enough to get the job done. Next, in working with our friends from the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, we added language to help the EPA harmonize its changeover to electronic filing with the Department of Transportation. The DOT also has its own requirements for handling and reporting hazardous materials, and we want the agencies to talk to each other and their computers to speak the same language.

So, Mr. Speaker, I urge the House to send S. 710, as amended, back to the other body, where we expect it to be approved without further amendment so that the President can sign it into law.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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