EDF Applauds EPA's Proposed Expansion of Right-to-Know Reporting

June 26, 1996

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) today praised Vice President Gore’s announcement of a proposal requiring more industries to report toxic releases under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). The proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule is expected to expand TRI reporting to include incinerators, utilities, and mining facilities.

“What we don’t know may hurt us, which is why the public supports expansion of TRI reporting to all businesses exceeding the law’s thresholds for size and use of toxic chemicals,” said Lois Epstein, an EDF engineer. “The Toxics Release Inventory currently paints an incomplete picture of national pollutant releases and transfers. With today’s proposed addition of certain non-manufacturing industries, EPA will fill in some of the gaps in this picture. With these new data, government, industry, and the public can better prioritize their efforts to prevent environmental harm.”

“TRI reporting is a proven incentive for manufacturers to improve their environmental performance, and will likely produce similar results for the industries added,” said Kevin Mills, attorney and director of EDF’s Pollution Prevention Alliance.

Since the late 1980’s, the public awareness created by TRI data compilation and reporting has driven manufacturing facility-based reductions in air, water, and land releases. Throughout the country, these reductions have resulted in extensive savings to industrial facilities from reduced costs for raw materials, pollution control devices, and waste disposal. TRI contains thresholds for reporting to avoid unnecessary reporting paperwork for small businesses.

President Clinton’s 1993 Executive Order already requires federal government facilities of all types to report under TRI.

“The right-to-know law is a flexible and simple way to achieve environmental results. The beauty of the Toxics Release Inventory is that it focuses on the potential hazards posed by individual toxic chemicals, and not on complicated and controversial predictions of risk which require models involving chemicals, transport mechanisms, and numbers of humans or animals exposed. Everyone can agree that it’s better for a facility to report to TRI releases of 10 pounds of benzene to air annually instead of 1000 pounds,” said Epstein.