Friday, September 30, 2011

EPA Launches New Mapping Tool

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the release of a new mapping feature in EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) database. As part of EPA’s ongoing effort to improve transparency, the EPA and State Enforcement Actions Map will allow the public to access federal and state enforcement information in an interactive format and to compare enforcement action information by state. The map will be refreshed monthly to include up to date information about the enforcement actions taken to address violations of air, water, and waste laws.

Map users can choose the year, the media (air, water, waste, multiple), and whether they would like to display enforcement information for actions taken at the federal level, state level, or both. Users can then click on a state to view facility locations and click on a facility to list its name, the environmental statute the facility has an enforcement action under, and a link to a detailed facility compliance report.

ECHO provides integrated searches of EPA and state data about inspections, violations and enforcement actions for more than 800,000 regulated facilities. Now in its ninth year, ECHO recently received its 10 millionth data query and has completed a record year of more than 2 million queries. President Obama recognized ECHO in his January 2011 Presidential Memorandum on regulatory compliance, as a model for transparency for other federal agencies to follow.

Enforcement and Compliance History Online

Presidential Memorandum – Regulatory Compliance

DEC Issues Proposed Fracking Regulations

The state York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued proposed regulations Wednesday to regulate the natural gas drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking. A draft 1,537-page environmental impact statement on hydrofracking, issued last month, is still undergoing a public comment period. Public comment on both the draft rules and the impact statement expire Dec. 12, which could then allow DEC to make both documents final. That could allow drilling permits to be issued.

Hydrofracking relies on an high-pressure blend of chemicals, water and sand into deep underground rock formations to release trapped bubbles of natural gas. Opponents are concerned drilling could damage air and water quality, while the industry asserts the practice is safe.

Public hearings for the proposed regulations and impact statement are set for Nov. 16 at Dansville Middle School Auditorium, 31 Clara Barton St., Dansville; Nov. 17 at The Forum Theatre, 236 Washington St., Binghamton; Nov. 29 at Sullivan County Community College, Seelig Theatre, 112 College Road, Loch Sheldrake; and Nov. 30 at Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers St., New York City. All hearings are from 1 to 4 p.m, and from 6 to 9 p.m. (TimesUnion, 9/29/2011)