In December 2006, the EPA dramatically reduced the amount of information the agency collects on toxic pollution under the TRI program. Since 1987, polluting facilities have provided detailed information about which chemicals are released, in what quantity, and where they go. TRI is widely recognized as one of the most effective environmental programs ever created. For example, TRI resulted in companies reducing toxic pollution by 50 percent within the program's first ten years.
In 2006, EPA significantly raised the threshold for detailed reporting on toxic pollution. The threshold went from 500 pounds to 5,000 pounds with an additional requirement that only 2,000 pounds of that pollution be released directly to the environment. The new rules also created an unprecedented exemption for reporting low-level disposals of persistent bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs), including lead and mercury, which have been proven to be dangerous in even the smallest quantities. The agency made these changes despite overwhelming opposition from the American people, scientists, academics, public interest groups, and many others.
Currently, New York and twelve other states are suing the EPA to restore the old reporting thresholds. OMB Watch and U.S. PIRG are gathering signatures on a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. In the letter, we urge Administrator Jackson to take the necessary steps to settle the TRI lawsuit and restore the TRI program.
With a new administration settling into the White House and a new administrator taking charge at EPA, we now have an excellent opportunity to restore and improve the TRI program. The more voices we have calling for this move, the better our chances of quickly restoring the public's right to know.
Please take a moment to add your name or your organization to the letter.