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First Gov  

Office of Management and Budget
News Release


March 4, 2002

OMB Urges EPA to Accelerate and Simplify Distribution of
Widely Used Toxic Release Inventory Data

Washington, DC -- In a letter sent today, OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) requested that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enhance its Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), an annual measure of chemical releases by facilities. EPA has 60 days to respond to the request. A copy of the letter follows this release.

"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," noted OIRA Administrator John D. Graham. "The Administration is committed to increasing the utility of this information."

OIRA suggested several ways EPA might improve the dissemination of TRI data.

It recommended that the agency expedite the release of TRI data by making a greater use of electronic reporting.

"The increased use of electronic reporting reduces the quality control burden on the agency and should allow quicker processing of the data for the public's benefit," Graham said.

In recent years, there has been a considerable lag in the delivery of TRI data. Official TRI numbers for the year 2000 will not be released until this spring -- almost a year after EPA received the data.

OIRA also encouraged EPA to assign a common identification number to each facility, so performance data could be presented for specific facilities. Community organizations have supported this concept in the past.

OIRA's request came in the form of a "prompt" letter, a tool introduced by the Bush Administration. While not forcing agency action, prompt letters alert agencies to issues that OMB considers worthy of priority status.


  • TRI data is collected under authority of Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986. Additional reporting requirements were included in the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990.

  • Under the TRI program, covered facilities are required to report annually on their release, broken down by environmental media (for example, air, land and water) and waste management activities (for example, treatment and recycling) of over 600 listed toxic chemicals.

  • For calendar year 1999, the most recent year for which data are currently available, over 22,000 facilities filed 84,000 chemical release reports.

  • These reports are widely used by government agencies, academic researchers, environmental organizations, and members of the public to track the release of toxic chemicals into the environment.

  • Under the Paperwork Reduction Act, OMB reviews and approves all collections of information conducted by federal agencies in order to ensure, among other things, that the data collected have practical utility.


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