By Philip L. Comella and Craig B. Simonsen
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has, in response to stakeholder requests, extended the due date for comments on its proposed rule to require electronic reporting for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) paper-based reports. 78 Fed. Reg. 64435 (Oct. 29, 2013). Comments are now due on the proposed rule on or before December 12, 2013.
See our previous blog for greater detail about the proposed NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule, 78 Fed. Reg. 46006 (July 30, 2013). Basically, it would require permittees and regulators to use existing, available information technology to electronically report information and data related to the NPDES permit program, in lieu of filing written reports.
The Agency, in proposing the rule, had indicated that electronic reporting as implemented in some states had significantly improved data quality and data availability while reducing costs. Also, requiring electronic reporting would be a way to achieve data collection in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The Agency suggested that better nationally-available information would help improve the NPDES program overall.
You should consider now whether and to the extent that complying with this proposal would cause your operations and business interests undue trouble and costs. This may be especially true for state and municipal entities that may be expected to use or create the systems needed to comply with the electronic reporting requirements. Filing a comment now may cause the federal regulators to reconsider a proposal, or at least provide you with a record of raising the issue.