1999 Right-To-Know Data On Toxic Chemical Releases Issued Today

April 11, 2001
Data from the 1999 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) right-to-know program were made available to the public today in summary form (www.epa.gov/tri). The data show a 45% reduction in toxic chemical releases from core industries since the 1988 baseline year, and a decrease of 2.5% from 1998. This successful program represents just 2/1000 of EPA’s annual budget.

Metal mining and electric utilities, which reported for only the second year, accounted for 51% and 15% of all releases nationwide.

Despite the TRI program’s superior results in helping reduce pollution, President Bush’s proposed budget issued on April 9 cuts the program by nearly 4%. In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is contemplating rescinding a rule that would expand reporting of lead releases to TRI, and EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice may decide not to appeal a January decision in federal court in Colorado that would eliminate nearly all reporting to TRI by the mining industry.

While Environmental Defense praised EPA for the early release of TRI summary data compared to previous years, Environmental Defense senior engineer Lois Epstein emphasized that the use of the data by stakeholders is what is most important.

“The TRI right-to-know program represents the best of government, a program that shows excellent results at low cost for taxpayers. TRI data are the only data that EPA provides on ongoing facility operations that cover air, water, and land releases of toxic chemicals. EPA needs to expand its right-to-know program, not diminish it,” said Epstein.

See Environmental Defense’s use of TRI data in www.scorecard.org and the ranking portions of www.environmentaldefense.org

According to Environmental Defense, critical TRI needs requiring increased funding include: improvements in data quality, better reporting on pollution prevention results, integration of TRI data with other EPA databases, lowering the threshold for reporting of other persistent bioaccumulative toxic chemicals in addition to lead, and expanding data requirements to fill needed reporting gaps.