A bill authored by U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, that would modernize the way both the states and the federal government track the shipment of hazardous waste was passed by Unanimous Consent early this morning by the full Senate.
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 originally passed in the Senate by unanimous consent on August 2, 2011 and a slightly modified version passed in the House of Representatives by voice vote on Tuesday, September 11, 2012. With overwhelming support in the House and the Senate, the bill will now be sent to the president for his approval.
“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 and shipments 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 and I hope the president will sign this bipartisan effort soon.”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 chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee 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.