Timely and accurate environmental reporting is an important piece of maintaining compliance with environmental regulations. Not only is it required by law, but it also helps assure the regulatory agencies, your community, local units of government, and other interested parties that you’re committed to being a good “neighbor” and making a conscientious effort to protect the environment and public health. Environmental regulations require facilities to submit reports to local or state environmental agencies or the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The information you are required to submit and the associated reporting deadlines vary by regulation and jurisdiction.
For example, listed below is a summary of common environmental reports and deadlines
|Hazardous Waste Large Quantity Generator Biennial Report (even numbered years only)||March 1|
|Tier II Reporting (SARA Section 311/312)||March 1|
|Air Emissions Inventory Report||Varies by state (February-July)*|
|Toxic Release Inventory (SARA Section 313)||July 1|
|Other Hazardous Waste Reporting||Varies by state*|
*In our next two blogs we will discuss state-specific hazardous waste and air emissions inventory reporting deadlines.
The Basics – Being Right with Regulatory Agencies
Environmental reporting can be complicated, is often tedious, and at times may seem unnecessary, but it is an opportunity to demonstrate to your regulator that you know the requirements applicable to your facility and you are complying with those requirements. Because environmental agencies cannot feasibly inspect all facilities, most environmental regulations rely on the regulated entity to self-report violations and to provide documentation of compliance. If a regulated entity misses a reporting deadline or includes incomplete or inaccurate information in its report, it is a trigger for a regulator to ask, “what else is this facility missing or not paying attention to?” These questions can invite follow-up inspections, additional information requests, or even enforcement actions. Timely and accurate reporting minimizes risks across the board.
Good Neighbor Transparency
Staying on top of reports carries additional benefits for your company. If your facility is in a densely populated area with nearby residential neighbors or you have been asked to fulfill outreach activities by an environmental agency, environmental reports can serve as an excellent communication tool with surrounding communities. This type of transparency also protects the reputation of your company, improves marketability, and furthers positive stakeholder relations.
Impact on Policy and Rulemaking
Additionally, government agencies and policymakers use environmental data reported by facilities to plan, dedicate resources, and guide policy and rulemaking. From this standpoint, it is important to provide timely and accurate reporting so that these policies and laws reflect reality. Plans and policies that don’t reflect the reality of your industry can have a negative impact on your business through the imposition of additional or unnecessary regulations or increased costs.
Creating Value from Requirement
The silver lining to staying on top of required environmental reports is that they can result in a more successful framework for your compliance activities, recordkeeping requirements, and serve as a training tool for employees. There is a myriad of compliance deadlines in a given timeframe, which underscores the importance of gathering quality data consistently, reviewing it promptly, utilizing tools such as spreadsheets and monthly data checks to track operational activities, regularly training employees, and becoming familiar with the method and/or online software (depending on your regulatory agency) required to report, among other practices. Although driven by requirement, these practices can lead to more holistic approach in your company or facility that can help achieve efficiency, improve productivity, lower operating costs, reduce liability, and protect employee and environmental health.
You can see how environmental reporting can be made easier if you plan for it throughout the year. In our next blog, we are going to discuss how to prepare for a few key environmental reporting requirements. Stay tuned for our three-part series, including “Environmental Reporting –Tier II, Toxic Release Inventory, and Hazardous Waste” and “Environmental Reporting – Clean Air Act & Clean Water Act”.
Contact Our Environmental Consultants
Braun Intertec has experienced consultants that can help you determine what environmental reporting requirements apply to you and help you prepare and submit your reports. If you have any questions, please give us a call or click the link below to fill out our Contact Us form.