Contractor ‘Generators’ Would Face Pass-Through Costs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed a user fee structure to fund its planned electronic system for tracking shipments of hazardous waste.  Under the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act, Congress directed EPA to create a national, electronic system to track federal and state-regulated hazardous waste shipments requiring manifests from “cradle-to-grave” and charge a prescribed fee to users of the system to recover its costs. Comments are due by Sept. 26.

As reported by AGC, in a February 2014 final rule, EPA authorized the use of electronic manifests to track shipments of hazardous waste from generation to receipt and disposal under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (the program also extends to state-regulated wastes for which a manifest requirement is imposed under state law).  The e-Manifest national system is set for deployment in spring 2018.

With EPA’s most recent e-Manifest rulemaking, the agency is proposing to charge facilities that treat, store and dispose of hazardous waste (TSDFs) for use of its electronic hazardous waste manifest system, rather than charging “generators” who produce and transport the waste. However, the agency is taking comments on the general question of who must pay e-Manifest user fees.  The agency expects TSDFs to pass some or all of the costs on to generators but whether and how to do that would be left up to the facilities. The proposed rule would not impose e-Manifest system fees on members of the public or on state governments that utilize manifest data for informational purposes and that are not required by federal or state regulation to use manifests for waste tracking purposes.

EPA is also soliciting public comments on the types of transactions that would trigger fees, the options for users to make their payments, and possible penalties for non-payment, among other issues.

The rule also proposes several amendments to the regulations that are not fee related but touch upon other aspects of the manifest system. These non-fee amendments propose:

  • to change EPA’s longstanding regulations regarding transporter changes to shipment routing information on the manifest during transportation;
  • to specify a process by which receiving facilities may submit manifest data corrections to the e-Manifest system; and
  • to modify a provision of the current electronic manifest use requirements that prevents the use of mixed electronic and paper manifests by those users desiring to make use of electronic manifests in settings where not all users are able to participate electronically.

The e-Manifest system will improve access to higher quality and more timely shipment data and will significantly reduce burdens associated with the current paper system, according to EPA.  EPA will continue to accept paper manifests as it transitions to the electronic format.  The agency says on its website that it will input the data from those paper manifests into the e-Manifest system. As EPA evaluates the fee structure for e-Manifest, it will explore how it can collect reasonable service fees to cover the costs of processing paper manifests.

EPA is accepting public comments on its user fee proposed rule until Sept. 26, 2016. EPA has partnered with the General Services Administration to pilot a new comment platform, which can be found at https://epa-notice.usa.gov/Information on the new platform can be found in the Federal Register notice for the proposed rule, as well as on the EPA e-Manifest proposed rule website.

EPA Updates

If you would like to receive updates from EPA via its e-Manifest “ListServ” (electronic email discussion group), simply send a blank message to: eManifest-subscribe@lists.epa.gov. Once your email is subscribed to the list, you will receive a welcome email indicating you are a member. After that, you are able receive any messages sent to the list, as well as contribute messages to the list.

For more information, please contact AGC’s Leah Pilconis at pilconisl@agc.org.