The U.S. EPA unveiled a new notification service this week called ECHO Notify. This new tool will allow the public to receive weekly e-mails notifying them of EPA- and state-led environmental enforcement actions and violations. A subscriber can request to be notified based on a specific EPA Facility ID, ZIP code, county, or state.
Each e-mail will notify the recipient of recent violations or enforcement actions at facilities within the selected geographic area or facility. Subscribers can elect to be notified of all EPA and state enforcement and compliance activities or select from a subset of programs (e.g., CAA, CWA, RCRA, TSCA, CERCLA, EPCRA, FIFRA, SDWA) and types of violations (e.g., high priority violation under the CAA or an informal enforcement action under RCRA).
This newfound ease by which members of the public as well as the regulated community can now be notified of violations and enforcement actions will likely increase public scrutiny, citizen suits, and third-party claims, and bolster environmental justice initiatives. It is the EPA’s expectation that the increased transparency also will serve to trigger stronger deterrence.
It would be prudent for those in the regulated community to sign up for notifications related to their facilities. This will allow facilities to catch errors or inconsistencies that may exist in the public record, as well as allow an entity to prepare for questions or inquiries from the public once information about a violation or enforcement action is publicly circulated. Signing up for notifications in the area around your facility may also provide insight into EPA and state compliance and enforcement trends.