Environmental Protection: Wider Use of Advanced Technologies Can Improve Emissions Monitoring

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A chapter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "To protect human health and safeguard the environment,the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates pollution generated by sewage treatment plants, power generation plants, chemical manufacturers, and pulp and paper mills. Monitoring is a key component of these efforts. Many of the technologies that are now being used to monitor environmental conditions have been in existence for decades. In recent years, however, several technologies have become available that may offer improved measurement and performance capabilities. This report (1) identifies technologies whose wider use can improve the monitoring of ... continued below

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United States. General Accounting Office. June 22, 2001.

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Description

A chapter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "To protect human health and safeguard the environment,the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates pollution generated by sewage treatment plants, power generation plants, chemical manufacturers, and pulp and paper mills. Monitoring is a key component of these efforts. Many of the technologies that are now being used to monitor environmental conditions have been in existence for decades. In recent years, however, several technologies have become available that may offer improved measurement and performance capabilities. This report (1) identifies technologies whose wider use can improve the monitoring of pollutants entering the nation's air and water, (2) determines the extent to which these improved technologies are being used and steps that EPA can take to promote their wider use, and (3) identifies factors that influence the development of new technologies and steps that EPA can take to encourage greater development of new technologies. GAO found that several monitoring technologies exist that can better measure emissions or discharges from stationary air sources, wastewater sources, and nonpoint water sources. These technologies offer advantages over older, more commonly used methods by detecting pollutants at lower levels, reducing monitoring costs, and increasing the reliability of monitoring results. GAO also found that the primary barriers preventing wider use of these technologies differ considerably across stationary air, wastewater, and nonpoint water sources. Regulated entities may be reluctant to voluntarily use air emissions monitoring technology because of concerns that the new technology will reveal instances of noncompliance and will result in punitive action. Wastewater dischargers are not allowed to use the advanced technologies because EPA has yet to approve them for Clean Water Act compliance monitoring. Entities responsible for nonpoint water sources have been discouraged from using the technologies because of cost concerns. GAO found that equipment manufacturers tend to develop new technologies only when there are strong prospects for a return on their investment. Without regulatory requirements, manufacturers have little incentive to bring new technologies to market. In the absence of private investment, EPA and other agencies have sponsored some research in this area, but EPA has limited resources, and research done by other agencies does not always provide results that are acceptable for regulatory purposes."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • June 22, 2001

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  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. General Accounting Office. Environmental Protection: Wider Use of Advanced Technologies Can Improve Emissions Monitoring, report, June 22, 2001; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc293740/: accessed April 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.