E-manifest bill to White House
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September 27, 2012
E-manifest bill to White House

            The Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act (S. 710) was passed by Congress and sent to President Obama for his signature.  The Act will provide the EPA with the statutory authority needed to collect user fees and undertake other actions the Agency believes are essential to successfully running a nationwide manifest system for electronically tracking hazardous wastes.
$75 million in savings
            The EPA, as well as generators and transporters of hazardous waste and facilities that receive the waste, have long recognized that an e-manifest system would provide substantial labor and monetary savings.  When the EPA began analyzing the business case for the e-manifest several years ago, the Agency projected that a system that electronically handled 75 percent of the current manifest traffic could result in annual net savings of more $75 million for users and state agencies.
The Agency undertook an e-manifest pilot program in 2005 but was not able to meet the requirements of the Electronic Government Act of 2002 to extend the program.  However, the Agency indicated that its experience clarified the statutory authority that would be needed to make hazardous waste e-manifesting a reality.  Specifically, the EPA determined that legislation would be needed to:

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  • Authorize the EPA to collect user fees for system-related activities and deposit those fees in a special Treasury account from which funds could be expended only for system-related activities, including the development, operation, support, management, and future upgrade or enhancement of the e-manifest system.  S. 710 addresses this need by allowing the EPA to impose user service fees determined by the Agency to be necessary to pay costs incurred in developing, operating, maintaining, and upgrading the e-manifest system.
  • Clarify requirements for the use of unique or unconventional contracting arrangements for e-manifesting.  S. 710 accordingly provides that the EPA, in consultation with the Department of Transportation, may enter into one or more contracts with IT providers with a 10-year term for each contract. 
  • Specify that the e-manifest system and the authorizing regulations developed by the EPA must be effective in all states and effective on the same date.  The EPA noted that an e-manifest would not be successful if some states choose not to recognize the validity of electronic manifests or if some states require a full paper manifest to be completed in addition to an e-manifest.  S. 710 requires that in any state with a hazardous waste manifesting system, any designated facility that receives the waste must complete the facility portion of the e-manifest, sign and date the facility certification, and submit a final copy of the manifest to the e-manifest system.

Campaign by Thune
Passage of S. 710 was a personal victory for Senator John Thune (R-SD), the bill’s main sponsor, who began working on this issue in 2005 and introduced legislation in 2008 that was passed by the Senate but never taken up by the House.
“My legislation will help remove the most costly environmental paperwork burden on businesses under federal environmental law and will assist states in receiving data in a time- efficient manner,” said Thune.  “I applaud the bipartisan efforts of my colleagues in the House and Senate to make this legislation possible, and I hope the president will sign this bipartisan effort soon.”
Read S. 710.

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