56 Members of Congress Urge EPA to Withdraw Weak Toxic release Inventory Proposal
January 17, 2006
Washington, D.C. - Today, 56 members of Congress sent a strong message to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opposing a proposal that would weaken federal rules that help local communities know the amount of harmful chemicals released into the environment.
The 56 members sent a letter today to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson urging him to withdraw the proposal. The bipartisan letter was initiated by U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Hilda L. Solis (D-CA) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL).
In September, the EPA announced plans to weaken reporting requirements for the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). TRI was developed by Congress as part of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) in 1986 after a tragic disaster at a Union Carbine facility in Bhopal, India killed thousands of people. Congress passed EPCRA to ensure that communities know how much of the most dangerous industrial chemicals are being released into the air, water and the ground.
"Not only has TRI given citizens a much fuller picture of the contaminants that they live with, it has also encouraged companies to reduce their toxic releases," the 56 members wrote in their letter to Administrator Johnson. "In fact, TRI data indicates that the overall volume of toxic releases has declined by 59 percent since TRI's reporting requirements began in 1988. The proposed changes to TRI reporting requirements would seriously undermine the effectiveness of this highly successful program."
The EPA is trying to undermine this critical program by:
· Proposing to require that companies report once every two years, instead of annually;
· Eliminating detailed reports from more than 22,000 facilities that release up to 5,000 pounds of chemicals every year;
· And eliminating detailed reports from companies that release up to 500 pounds of the worst threats to human health, including lead and mercury.
"We believe that proposed changes undermine the ability of communities to take action to protect themselves and unnecessarily risks the health of vulnerable communities, especially children," the 56 lawmakers continued. "We urge you to immediately withdraw your proposed changes to TRI requirements. We believe the EPA should focus on improving public health protections rather than increasing public health risks to reduce corporate burdens."
Scientists have developed a large body of evidence indicating that exposure to industrial chemicals is widespread among Americans. A study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found over 100 chemicals present in blood and urine samples of average Americans. Furthermore, National Academies of Science panel found that 25 percent of developmental and neurological problems in children were due to the interplay between exposure to chemicals and genetic factors, and a full 3-percent of the problems were due to chemical exposure alone.
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The lawmakers' letter comes three days after attorneys general in 12 states sent a letter to the EPA highlighting the harm this proposal would have on low-income neighborhoods.
The House letter was signed by 56 members of the House of Representatives, including: Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Hilda L. Solis (D-CA), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Donald Payne (D-NJ), George Miller (D-CA), James Moran (D-VA), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Ed Case (D-HI), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Jose Serrano (D-NY), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Michael Honda (D-CA), Lois Capps (D-CA), Barney Frank (D-MA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Major Owens (D-NY), John Conyers (D-MI), Danny Davis (D-IL), Martin Sabo (D-MN), James McGovern (D-MA), James Saxton (R-NJ), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), John Olver (D-MA), Sam Farr (D-CA), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Richard Neal (D-MA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Dale Kildee (D-MI), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Gene Green (D-TX), Robert Andrews (D-NJ), Allison Schwartz (D-PA), Jesse Jackson (D-IL), Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Robert Brady (D-PA), John Tierney (D-MA), Sander Levin (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Steve Rothman (D-NJ) and Lane Evans (D-IL).