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Emergency Planning and Right to Know Programs

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) is designed to improve community access to information about chemical hazards and to facilitate the development of chemical emergency response plans by tribal governments. EPCRA establishes reporting obligations for facilities that store or manage specified chemicals.

EPCRA Implementation in Indian Country

EPA directly implements EPCRA in Indian country, but tribes are eligible for certain program delegations. Tribes can establish tribal emergency response commissions (TERCs), which are responsible for coordinating certain emergency response activities, and can appoint tribal emergency planning committees (TEPCs).

Major EPCRA provisions of interest to tribes include:

Extremely Hazardous Substances

Requires facility notification of the presence of any extremely hazardous substance in excess of the substance’s threshold planning quantity and directs the facility to appoint an emergency response coordinator.

Notification of a Release or Exceedance

Requires facility notification in the event of a release equaling or exceeding the reportable quantity of a hazardous substance as defined by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) or an EPCRA extremely hazardous substance.

Material Safety Data Sheets

Requires a facility at which a hazardous chemical is present in certain amounts to maintain material safety data sheets (MSDSs) or lists of MSDSs and hazardous chemical inventory forms.

Toxics Release Inventory (TRI)

The TRI tracks the management of certain toxic chemicals that may pose a threat to human health and the environment. U.S. facilities in different industry sectors must report annually how much of each chemical is released to the environment and/or managed through recycling, energy recovery, and treatment. The information submitted by facilities is compiled in the Toxics Release Inventory. Facilities located in Indian country that meet TRI reporting requirements are required to submit TRI forms to EPA and the appropriate tribe, rather than to the state in which the facility is geographically located.

TRI for Tribal Communities

TRI data allow tribes to identify sources of toxic chemical releases that may impact the health of tribal communities, and track increases or reductions of toxic chemical releases from TRI facilities over time. This webpage provides access to tribally relevant TRI data and other information that may be useful to tribal communities.

TRI Reporting in Indian Country

Facilities meeting TRI reporting requirements and located in Indian country are required to submit TRI reporting forms to EPA and the appropriate tribe, rather than to the state in which the facility is located. Under a 2012 final rule, a tribe’s only responsibility is to receive any reporting forms submitted by facilities in its Indian country. The final rule also clarified that a tribal chairperson or equivalent elected official has equivalent opportunities to a state governor to petition EPA to request that:

  1. Individual facilities located within their Indian country be added to TRI
  2. A particular chemical(s) be added to or deleted from the TRI chemical list

EPA determines whether to add a facility or add/delete a chemical to the TRI Program.