A bill authored by U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) that would modernize the way both the states and the federal government track the shipment of hazardous waste was signed into law by the president today, October 5, 2012. The Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act (S. 710) modernizes a 25-year old requirement by the Environmental Protection Agency which mandates that businesses provide carbon copy paper manifests to accompany waste materials from their origin to ultimate storage or disposal - commonly referred to as "cradle to grave" documentation. This bipartisan bill was originally introduced in the Senate by Senator Thune and is cosponsored by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Frank Lautenburg (D-N.J.), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA). The bill passed in the Senate by unanimous consent on August 2, 2011, a slightly modified version passed in the House of Representatives by voice vote on Tuesday, September 11, 2012. The Senate passed the House modified version of S. 710 by unanimous consent on September 22, 2012.
“Congress has a responsibility to make federal regulatory processes more efficient and less costly,” said Thune. “It is long overdue for Congress to cut the red tape for businesses by streamlining and modernizing the tracking of shipment of hazardous waste. My legislation will help remove the most costly environmental paperwork burden on businesses under federal environmental law and will assist states in receiving data in a time efficient manner. I applaud the bipartisan efforts of my colleagues in the House and Senate to make this legislation possible.”Roughly 139,000 regulated businesses submit between 2.5 million to 5 million hazardous waste manifests annually at a cost between $200 million and $500 million per year. Businesses that utilize everything from dry-cleaning chemicals to used engine oil are required to properly document the shipment of waste materials to ensure they are disposed of properly under existing environmental law.
Senator Thune began working on this issue in 2005 when he was the Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee chairman on Superfund and Waste Management. Thune's original bipartisan electronic manifest legislation (S.3109) was introduced in the 110th Congress and passed the full Senate in September of 2008, but was never taken up by the House of Representatives.