Thursday, May 10, 2007

EPA reduces burden on businesses to report release of toxic materials while increasing the citizens' burden of "not knowing"

On December 18, 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its Final TRI Burden Reduction Rule. “TRI” is the acronym for “Toxics Release Inventory.”

I’ve done enough research to know that “TRI Burden Reduction” is as meaningless as “Healthy Forests” and “Clear Skies.”

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, which issued a report when the draft TRI Burden Reduction Rule was proposed, the rule would “take away an important tool that has allowed citizens, government officials, and physicians to protect public health and the environment.

It appears to me that the final rule retains the most damaging proposals contained in the draft. I’ve relied on the Right to Know Network (RTK NET), a service of OMB Watch, which published the 2005 Toxics Release Inventory Data on March 23, 2005. In its press release, TRK NET stated: “Unfortunately, in December 2006, EPA changed TRI rules in a way that drastically reduces the amount of data collected on toxic pollution throughout the country, severely diminishing the usefulness of the TRI program for users. Amid huge opposition, the agency raised the threshold for detailed reporting for most of the 650 TRI chemicals from 500 pounds to 5,000 pounds, and up to 2,000 pounds can be released directly to the environment. The reporting changes will also allow facilities to withhold details on low-level waste generation of persistent bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs) such as mercury and lead.”

If you, like I, are relatively unaware of how much and what toxic materials are released in any given year, go to RTK NET Publishes 2005 Toxics Release Inventory Data for a summary of the most recently released results from EPA. For details, check here.

TRK NET urges us to take action here to “unroll” the rollback of reporting of the release of toxic materials.



A L Temple said...

Going in the wrong direction!
Is there anything we can do now or is it already cast in concrete?

Gail Jonas said...

A.L., Based on my research, Congress can overrule the current change made by the EPA, so the answer to your question is "yes," something can be done. The last link in the post,
takes you to an action item.