I am researching publicly traded corporate compliance with federal and state environmental permitting laws.
The Wall Street Journal reported on March 12, 2002 that the EPA's inspector general's office states one third of the nation's major polluters operate without permits and monitoring systems that Congress required by 1997.
As a follow up to PEER's report: Poisoning Our Water How the government permits pollution
The EPA is developing a central data base for industrial wastewater systems operating without permits and violating the Clean Water Act.
Publicly traded industrial wastewater systems which are in noncompliance with the Clean Water Act (operating without permits) are mandated under Federal Law (US Securities and Exchange Commission Regulation S-K) to file their noncompliance depreciation/violatility/liability costs to shareholders
quarterly and annually in SEC 10-Q & 10-K reporting?
SEC S-K regulations
October 1, 2001 US EPA alert on SEC disclosure
Publicly traded industrial wastewater systems operating without a permit to pollute and not disclosing the financial liability to shareholders as mandated under Federal law are beginning to be identified by NGO's and environmental fund managers.
Coalition Petition to the SEC
The Corporate Sunshine Working Group www.corporatesunshine.org and
I am interested in light of the current corporate fraud activity on Wall Street to report on those of publicly traded industrial polluters operating without polluting permits and not filing those financial liability to shareholders in violation of US SEC disclosure laws.
Can anyone provide me with some noted publicly traded corporate names to start?
Member of the Society of Environmental Journalistst
EPA Launches New Database To Counter Critics' Charges of Enforcement Rollback
San Antonio, TX -- EPA will soon launch a new database providing detailed information on agency and state enforcement actions in an effort to counter recent criticism of the Bush administration's alleged enforcement rollbacks that is based on what agency officials consider the misuse of its data.
Agency officials hope the database would allow EPA "to control the look, the feel, et cetera, of the [enforcement] data," Phyllis Harris, principal deputy assistant administrator of the Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance, told state environmental commissioners meeting here. EPA wants to "make sure the story is told the way we want to tell it," she said.
But Harris also said she hopes that the new Internet database will increase industry compliance by publicizing individual companies' enforcement records.
She said that the agency plans to launch the Enforcement Compliance History Online (ECHO) database within the next two months.
The development comes amid a slew of criticism from congressional Democrats, former EPA enforcement officials and environmentalists that the administration is cutting agency enforcement. Earlier this month, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) unveiled a report based on EPA enforcement data that alleged that enforcement actions are down nearly 50 percent compared with under the Clinton administration. Markey's report also claims that the total cost of penalties and remedies recovered from environmental enforcement actions under President Bush dropped by more than 80 percent compared to under President Clinton, while the average settlement is down nearly 63 percent.
But EPA enforcement chief J.P. Suarez said the agency intends to respond forcefully to the report and subsequent media coverage of it, claiming the report contained "data that was manipulated in ways we could not have anticipated."
Harris told a meeting of the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) Oct. 7 that the ECHO database would contain permit, inspection, violation and penalty information for roughly 800 companies' compliance with the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act. The database will also contain information from the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). Each state will serve as the steward for its data, unless a state lacks the necessary resources. In that case, the relevant EPA region will appoint a steward.
The database will contain a mechanism to request that data be corrected and all data submissions will be subject to he agency's new guidelines implementing a recently enacted data quality law. Under that law, outside parties can challenge federal data used to support regulatory and other agency actions.
According to Harris, the agency views the database as a way to pressure industry to improve compliance. By making the compliance data public, the agency believes companies would be motivated to improve their performance because of public pressure. "Transparency will drive compliance," she said.
Environmental and public interest groups have been "very active in getting our data [and it is] only a matter of time before they become even more sophisticated" in their use of EPA information to criticize the agency, she said. In addition, states will be given a communications strategy to help them explain the new database to the public and to answer key questions about it. For instance, EPA expects that the public may ask why so many facilities are not inspected and why it appears no action has been taken at facilities where violations have occurred.
Harris said the database was also motivated by the agency's belief that "public information should be provided to the public in a useable format." The public should not have to resort to using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain compliance information and has the right to know when laws are being violated, she said, acknowledging that the posting of the information is “inevitable” under the law," Harris said, citing the e-FOIA act and laws that require EPA to reduce the burdens of releasing agency data.
Harris noted, however, that the database represents "just a snapshot" of EPA enforcement activities, "not the be-all and end-all of compliance and enforcement," Harris said. While EPA is approaching the site's launch date, the agency is still trying to determine how to make clear on the website when a violation is under investigation or appeal.
Development of the database began roughly two years ago, and a smaller version has been pilot-tested in Region X. That database contained compliance and TRI information from specific industry sectors, including steel smelting, automobile assembly, pulp and paper, and petroleum refining.
EPA has allowed the states six months to conduct quality assurance on the data, and is in the final stages of responding to state comments on the database before its public launch.
Date: October 7, 2002
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