New EPA Reporting Rules On Toxic Chemicals Challenged

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is leading a coalition of 12 states in a legal challenge to the Bush Administration’s new regulations that weaken reporting requirements on toxic chemicals covered under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program.

The regulations put new limits on the amount of information companies must provide about the toxic chemicals they use, store, and release into the environment.  As a result, public health advocates, labor unions, environmental groups, and others now have restricted access to critical information needed to monitor the presence of toxic chemicals in the workplace and in their communities.

“The Toxics Release Inventory program empowers communities, workers, and individuals to protect their own environment,” Cuomo said in announcing the lawsuit, which seeks to overturn EPA’s new rules and restore the same public access available in the past.  “The EPA’s rollback of TRI requirements only benefits the companies that bring hazardous chemicals into our communities, while putting citizens at greater risk.

The TRI program requires companies to report the types and amounts of toxic chemicals stored at their facilities and also the quantities of chemicals they release into the environment.  Under the new regulations, issued in December, 2006, by the Bush Administration, for most toxic chemicals, a facility can now generate up to 10 times the amount of chemical waste than it could in the past before it is required to provide detailed TRI reports to the EPA.

“The AFL-CIO applauds Attorney General Cuomo and the other state Attorneys General for challenging the Bush Administration’s rollback to the TRI and seeking to restore the public’s right-to-know about chemicals in their workplaces and communities,” said Peg Seminario, Director of Safety and Health, AFL-CIO.