“Whether or not you work in the environmental sector or are a member of an environmental organization, the changes to TRI will affect you — this is about the air we breathe, the water we drink, the public’s health and our ability to know when there are problems related to toxic pollution in our communities,” said Brian Turnbaugh, policy analyst, Environmental Right to Know, OMB Watch
Since 1987, under TRI, facilities have been required to provide detailed information about which chemicals are released, in what quantity and where they go. TRI widely is 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 10 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 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.
Currently, New York and 12 other states are suing EPA to restore the old reporting thresholds. In the letter, Jackson is urged 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,” said Turnbaugh. “The more voices we have calling for this move, the better our chances of quickly restoring the public's right to know.”