On June 12, 2008, EPA's Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) Web site provided its five millionth search result, underscoring the popularity and usefulness of the site.
ECHO was originally launched by EPA in November, 2002. Accessible at /echo, ECHO provides Internet access to extensive information on EPA and state environmental inspections, findings of violations and enforcement actions at more than 800,000 facilities nationwide.
ECHO provides information for those reviewing compliance records of facilities across the U.S. From a simple report about one regulated facility, to a more sophisticated analysis of EPA or state inspection activities, ECHO provides many options to meet the public needs. As businesses and public citizens continue using ECHO to review environmental performance, the information provides accountability and a powerful incentive for companies to comply with environmental laws.
ECHO is an easy-to-use gateway to comprehensive information on regulatory violations of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which regulates the disposal of hazardous waste. Users can obtain information on the compliance status of local facilities regulated by each of those laws. Included is information from both EPA and state environmental agencies. The information is updated monthly. ECHO was one of three EPA programs named semifinalists for the Innovations in American Government Award in 2006 selected by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Any Internet-accessible computer can be used to search for information on inspections, violations, and enforcement actions at EPA-regulated facilities using a variety of search criteria. For example, citizens can learn about the facilities in their area by entering their zip code, or simply pulling up a map and plotting nearby facilities. Regulated entities can keep track of their record of compliance under environmental laws by typing in the company name or by pasting in a list of ID numbers. Investors can review the environmental compliance history of a company prior to investing. Researchers have a single point of access to detailed facility-level environmental information.
To help ensure accuracy, EPA includes an on-line error reporting system in ECHO. Since ECHO launched, EPA has made many site enhancements in response to public requests. For example, the site expanded from three to five years of compliance monitoring and enforcement action data, provides more powerful download capabilities for researchers and analysts, offers enhanced mapping capabilities, and allows users to plot Clean Water Act discharge data over time. The Agency continues to collect feedback via ECHO Support, and will consider additional enhancements to the site that will make it more useful to the general public.