Frequent Questions about the Final Rule: User Fees for the Electronic Hazardous Waste Manifest System (E-Manifest) and Amendments to Manifest Regulations
On this page:
- Why do we need a regulation for e-Manifest user fees?
- Must the states revise their programs and obtain authorization for the Fee Rule revisions?
- What major issues does the User Fee Final Rule address?
- What is the fee schedule established by the rule?
- What non-fee related issues are included in the final rule?
- What program costs are being considered by EPA in its final user fee methodology?
- Are all manifest users required to pay fees under the final rule?
- Will those who acquire or use manifest data for informational purposes be required to pay e-Manifest fees?
- Will users pay the same fee for all manifests under the final rule?
- What transactions will give rise to user fees under the final rule?
- What options are there for receiving facilities to submit to EPA?
- What incentives exist in the final rule to encourage shifts from paper to electronic manifests?
- Can EPA revise user fees under the final rule methodology?
- What factors will affect any fee adjustments?
- How frequently will EPA adjust user fees under the final rule?
- Will revisions to user fees require a new rulemaking?
- How does EPA plan to communicate its user fee schedule and revisions to users?
- How will users make user fee payments under the final rule?
- What sanctions are available to ensure users make prompt payments?
- When will the final e-Manifest user fees go into effect?
- How does the User Fee Final Rule affect the manifest form and continuation sheet?
- What is the role of the e-Manifest Advisory Board in setting or overseeing user fees?
- Once the system and the Fee Rule are completed, what will be the expected costs and benefits of e-Manifest?
- Will EPA’s accounting of user fees be subject to any independent oversight?
1. Why do we need a regulation for e-Manifest user fees?
The Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act (e-Manifest Act) does not itself set e-Manifest user fees, but instead confers discretion upon EPA to establish user fees, through regulation, that the Administrator determines to be necessary to offset the costs of developing and operating the e-Manifest system. With this final rule, EPA established the methodology upon which the Agency will set its user fees for the e-Manifest system.
2. Must the states revise their programs and obtain authorization for the Fee Rule revisions?
States with authorized hazardous waste programs are required to revise their state programs in order to be equivalent to, consistent with, and no less stringent than the requirements announced in this final e-Manifest user fee regulation. All state programs must adopt or reference appropriately in their state regulations certain fee methodology provisions of the e-Manifest user fee rule, so that users in all states are aware of their obligation to pay user fees to EPA for e-Manifest related services. There are other provisions in the fee rule that affect the validity and use of manifests and submitting valid data corrections, and these must be adopted consistently and authorized in order for the states to implement and enforce these provisions. EPA has developed detailed guidance to authorized state programs on the authorization requirements for the e-Manifest user fee rule. EPA stands ready to assist states with adopting the e-Manifest regulations.
3. What major issues does the User Fee Final Rule address?
The final rule addresses the following major issues:
- Which users of manifests or manifest data will be charged user fees?
- What transactions or services will give rise to fee obligations?
- How will users be billed for e-Manifest services and make their fee payments?
- What model or formula will EPA rely upon for the determination of users’ fees?
- How will the rule address fee schedule revisions?
4. What is the fee schedule established by the rule?
e-Manifet user fees are set based on the manifest usage and processing cost for each manifest submission type. Under the final e-Manifest user fee rule, EPA will re-run the fee formula and publish revised user fee schedules at two-year intervals. For more information on current user fees, visit the e-Manifest User Fees and Payment Information page.
5. What non-fee related issues are included in the final rule?
The final rule notice includes several matters that are not user fee related, but that touch upon other aspects of the manifest system. These non-fee matters include:
- A requirement that allows certain changes to the routing of manifested waste shipments to be made while the shipment is in transportation;
- A process to allow interested parties named on the manifest, such as hazardous waste generators, transporters, and receiving facilities to make corrections electronically to previously submitted manifest data; and
- A requirement that allows a manifest user, in certain instances, to execute and use a hazardous waste manifest that combines the use of a paper manifest with the use of an electronic manifest (i.e., a “hybrid” manifest).
6. What program costs are being considered by EPA in its final user fee methodology?
The final rule includes a user fee formula that allocates all of the Agency’s system-related costs across all the manifests, paper and electronic, that will be used and submitted to the system. The major cost categories used in the formula include:
- System Setup Costs -- the intramural and contract costs incurred by EPA prior to the time that the system is operational. System Setup Costs cover all the system planning, regulatory development, system development, program management, and all other pre-operational program costs, including the establishment of the e-Manifest Advisory Board.
- Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Costs -- the system and program related intramural and contract costs incurred by EPA after the date that the e-Manifest system is operational. These include the costs of operating the e-Manifest information technology system, operating a help desk, operating the paper processing center, planning and conducting meetings of the e-Manifest Advisory Board, revising and publishing new fee schedules, conducting invoicing and fee collection activities, reporting on the system’s financial performance and auditing its finances, and all other aspects of program management and execution.
- Indirect Costs - the intramural and extramural costs that are incurred by EPA in operating the system, but that are not captured in the EPA Program cost and marginal labor cost sub-categories that EPA tracks as direct costs in determining overall costs and resulting fees. Indirect costs typically include such items as physical overhead, maintenance, utilities, and rents on land, buildings, or equipment. In e-Manifest, these indirect costs also include the cost of participation by administrative EPA offices outside of the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery (ORCR), the lead office at EPA for implementing the e-Manifest program, and the participation of upper management level personnel from the EPA offices that provide support to all aspects of the e-Manifest program
7. Are all manifest users required to pay fees under the final rule?
The final rule limits the requirement to pay fees to those users who are the receiving facilities designated on manifests to receive shipments of wastes. This includes RCRA hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities and other facilities that receive waste shipped on a manifest, such as manifested state-regulated waste and regulated polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) waste. Since facilities that receive manifested wastes from off-site are relatively few in number relative to hazardous waste generators, EPA has determined it is more efficient to limit fee collection and payment activities to these facilities.
8. Will those who acquire or use manifest data for informational purposes be required to pay e-Manifest fees?
The final rule does not impose e-Manifest system fees on members of the public or on state and tribal governments for access and use of manifest data from EPA’s system. While the e-Manifest system will not impose fees on such data access, there may be fees that result under other laws, such as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
9. Will users pay the same fee for all manifests under the final rule?
Users will not pay the same fee for manifests. Under the final rule’s fee methodology, users will pay differential fees, depending upon the type of manifest submitted. The e-Manifest user fees are required to accomplish full cost recovery, and EPA has concluded that some manifests will produce greater costs than others for the system to process. Fully electronic manifests will entail the least amount of processing and Quality Assurance (QA) related costs, while paper manifests will entail greater processing costs for data key entry and QA activities, depending upon the mode of submission (i.e., data file upload, or image file) of paper manifest data to the system and thus will bear higher fees accordingly.
10. What transactions will give rise to user fees under the final rule?
The transaction in e-Manifest that will give rise to a user fee obligation is the submission of each final manifest copy to the system by receiving facilities. The imposed fee will be dependent on the type of manifest submission. A receiving facility will also pay fees for manifests that involve rejected wastes that are being returned by the facility to the generator.
11. What options are there for receiving facilities to submit to EPA?
EPA explained in the February 7, 2014 final rule that handlers will have a variety of options for submitting manifests to EPA, including electronically submitting manifests directly in the e-Manifest system, uploading manifest data plus a PDF copy of paper manifest from an industry system, uploading a PDF copy of a paper manifest, and mailing in a hard copy manifest (however, mailing in paper manifest is no longer a submission option as of June 30, 2021). This final action also implements a process that allows for hybrid manifests to assist the regulated community in transitioning to fully electronic manifests. A hybrid manifest begins as a paper manifest at the generator site and transitions to an electronic manifest at the transporter and through to the receiving facility.
12. What incentives exist in the final rule to encourage shifts from paper to electronic manifests?
The final rule includes the following incentives to move from paper to electronic:
- Differential fees (paper will cost more)
- Pivot for higher fees for paper manifest, if electronic manifest use does not reach 75% in four years, and
- Phase-out of facilities' mailed paper submissions three years after system launch.
In order for the hazardous waste manifesting community to realize the full potential of cost savings related to the use of the e-Manifest system, we will make it our goal to eliminate use of paper manifests at five years of system launch. At that time, we will evaluate the trends in electronic adoption, reasons for any delay in adoption, and then consult with the e-Manifest Advisory Board on whether to institute a paper ban. We will also examine the trends in relation to the use of the hybrid manifests, and seek the advice of the e-Manifest Advisory Board on whether it is aiding or hindering the adoption of electronic manifesting, and whether it should perhaps be phased out as well.
13. Can EPA revise user fees under the final rule methodology?
The final methodology enables EPA to revise its fee schedules to keep pace with changes in program costs, inflation, and with improvements in manifest use data. Under the user fee methodology, EPA plans to publish its fee schedules every two years. In addition, EPA will consult with the e-Manifest Advisory Board on setting and revising user fee schedules and on system enhancements that might affect the scope of the program and the fee amounts required for cost recovery.
14. What factors will affect any fee adjustments?
In the final rule’s fee formula, the fees imposed are highly dependent upon the total program related costs incurred by EPA and the numbers of manifests over which program costs will be allocated. Therefore, when revising its user fee schedules, EPA will re-run its fee formula using the most recent data on program costs and manifest numbers. The final rule also contains fee adjustment factors that will revise fees to address inflation and revenue losses from inaccurate estimates of manifests in use.
15. How frequently will EPA adjust user fees under the final rule?
Under the final e-Manifest user fee rule, EPA will re-run the fee formula and publish revised user fee schedules at two-year intervals.
16. Will revisions to user fees require a new rulemaking?
Revisions to user fees generally will not require a new rulemaking. EPA will re-run the fee formula at two-year intervals, with the most recent program cost and manifest usage numbers being used in running the fee formula to calculate the fees for each manifest submission type. The result will be a fee schedule that announces the fees for each of the next two fiscal years. The new fee schedules will be published to users via the e-Manifest program’s web site at least 90 days prior to their effective date.
If, however, EPA significantly alters its methodology for calculating or adjusting fees, or the fees are affected by significant new program costs not anticipated in the formulas we include in our initial fee-setting methodology, then EPA would follow notice-and-comment procedures before announcing any revised fees based on a significantly new fee methodology.
17. How does EPA plan to communicate its user fee schedule and revisions to users?
EPA will publish the revised fee schedules 90 days prior to their effective date on e-Manifest program’s web site , and will also provide a link to users when they access the e-Manifest system so that they could be immediately notified of and directed to the new fee schedules.
18. How will users make user fee payments under the final rule?
Receiving facilities will receive an electronic invoice each month displaying their manifest activity during the prior month, and each facility will be directed to Treasury’s Pay.gov web site to submit their electronic payments. Receiving facilities can use any payment method of their choice supported by the Department of the Treasury’s Pay.gov electronic payment collection services (or any applicable alternative or successor to Pay.gov developed by Treasury) as long as EPA’s financial tracking systems are able to obtain and process the selected method of payment.
19. What sanctions are available to ensure users make prompt payments?
e-Manifest fees must be paid by receiving facilities within 30 days from the date of an electronic invoice, and payments not paid by this date will be treated as delinquent by the Agency. This rulemaking provides sanctions that will ratchet up in their severity based on the degree and duration of the delinquency, including:
- Financial Claims Collection Penalties – Delinquent users’ accounts will be charged interest at the Combined Value of Funds Rate (currently 1 percent) 30 days from the date of the electronic invoice or bill and an additional 6 percent financial penalty will be imposed on outstanding or delinquent debts that are 90 days past due (i.e., not paid by date 120 days from date of invoice); and
- RCRA Enforcement - If any manifests are designated as “unperfected” because a receiving facility had not submitted them to the system or had not paid the applicable fee for their processing, then EPA may pursue a RCRA civil enforcement action against the delinquent facility.
20. When did the final e-Manifest user fees go into effect?
EPA launched e-Manifest system on June 30, 2018. This is also the date on which EPA’s e-Manifest regulations, including the requirements of this final rule and the requirements of the One Year Rule which EPA issued on February 7, 2014, became effective. As of the effective date, receiving facilities are required to submit electronic and paper manifests to EPA and pay a prescribed fee for each manifest.
21. How does the User Fee Final Rule affect the manifest form and continuation sheet?
The e-Manifest regulations and implementation of the e-Manifest system required EPA to make conforming changes to the current manifest form and instructions, including the copy distribution scheme. Previously, the manifest form printing specification required that the top copy (Page 1) of the six-copy set of forms be sent by the designated facility to the consignment or destination state, if required by that state. However, in February 7, 2014, EPA announced (but did not codify) in its e-Manifest “One Year Rule” that when the e-Manifest system becomes operational, designated facilities must submit the top copy (Page 1) of the six-copy paper form to the e-Manifest system for purposes of data entry and processing. Since the system handles distribution of the receiving facility copy to both destination states and generator states, it is no longer necessary for the printing specification to provide the two copies that previously were earmarked for the facilities to send to the destination state and the generator state. Thus, the new requirement for receiving facilities to submit Page 1 (top copy) to the e-Manifest system allows EPA to transition to a five-copy form, by eliminating the copy previously denoted as "Page 2: Designated facility to generator state (if required)." With the announcement in the final rule that e-Manifest system operations will begin on June 30, 2018, EPA has codified these regulatory decisions and modified the manifest form, continuation sheet, and distribution scheme accordingly. Specifically, EPA has implemented a five-copy manifest form and revised the copy distribution notation, shown in the bottom right margins of the form, as follows:
Page 1 (top copy): “Designated facility to EPA’s e-Manifest system”;
Page 2: “Designated facility to generator”;
Page 3: “Designated facility copy”;
Page 4: “Transporter copy”; and,
Page 5 (bottom copy): “Generator’s initial copy.”
In addition, as of June 30, 2018, approved printers must make available to users the new printed five-copy form with the new distribution scheme. In addition, hazardous waste generators, brokers, transporters, hazardous waste permitted treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs), and other facilities that receive waste on a manifest for state-regulated wastes (e.g., Subtitle D disposal facilities, recyclers without a permit) must use the new five-copy manifest form with this revised copy distribution notation on June 30, 2018, and discontinue use of all previous editions of the manifest form after this date.
This final action also modifies the manifest form, continuation sheet, and the instructions to alert non-RCRA permitted facilities (e.g., Subtitle D facilities) receiving state-regulated waste on a manifest of their new obligations under the e-Manifest program. As of June 30, 2018, these facilities must submit those manifests to EPA and will be required to pay an associated fee for each manifest submission.
22. What is the role of the e-Manifest Advisory Board in setting or overseeing user fees?
EPA attaches great significance to the role of the e-Manifest Advisory Board in consulting with EPA on fee revisions. As the e-Manifest Advisory Board is comprised of a cross-section of stakeholders, EPA believes that this consultation role will be very important to maintaining trust in EPA fee setting and revision methodology. EPA will share financial reports and audits with the e-Manifest Advisory Board, and current and projected program budgets and their effects on proposed fee revisions will be a regular agenda item for EPA’s discussions with the e-Manifest Advisory Board.
23. What are the expected costs and benefits of e-Manifest?
The expected costs and benefits of e-Manifest will vary from year to year. The adoption of electronic manifesting, the total number of manifests passing through the system, and system design are all factors that influence the costs and benefits. As more users adopt electronic manifests, costs are expected to fall and benefits are expected to rise. Over the first six years of system operation, cost savings are expected to equal an annualized $66 million per year. Once electronic manifests have been widely adopted, annual cost savings are expected to exceed $90 million.
24. Will EPA’s accounting of user fees be subject to any independent oversight?
Yes. The e-Manifest Advisory Board consults with EPA on setting and revising user fee schedules and on system enhancements that might affect the scope of the program and the fee amounts required for cost recovery. Both the e-Manifest Advisory Board and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) provide scrutiny and oversight of the user fees.