The Public's Right To Know What Industry Wants To Tell

The American Chemistry Council (ACC), which recently launched a major chemical industry PR campaign called "essential2," is one of the main groups claiming that the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), a public right-to-know program, is not so essential. Under TRI, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency annually reports on what industries release into the air, water and land. The ACC "has urged less frequent reporting since 1999." ACC's Michael Walls said, "Just because we're used to doing something doesn't mean we should accept the inherent high costs or burden of doing it." The Bush administration supports changing the TRI so that fewer releases are reported, less frequently. EPA officials say they will "likely spend another year weighing the pros and cons" of the proposed changes, after the public comment period ends on December 5. According to federal records, the EPA "previously solicited comments from industry groups."


The changes to TRI that EPA is proposing have been pushed by several industry associations including the small business administration. It's telling that the best spin that EPA could put on the proposals is that they are to provide relief to companies for the paperwork they must fill out under the TRI program. The proposals so clearly only benefit polluting companies that the agency can help but at least partially acknowledge that the changes are being made for them. But the TRI program is supposed to be about communities and informing them about the toxic pollution that is being released around them.

It seems to me that filling out a five page form is the least a company should have to do if they release thousands of pounds of a toxic chemical into the air or water.

Public interest groups, including environmentalists, unions, good government groups, socially responsible investors and others, are coordinating efforts to oppose the EPA plans. If people would like to submit comments to EPA they can use OMB Watch's action alert at

Additional information on this issue can also be found at the TRI Resource Center ( being developed to provide advocates with materials to oppose these dangerous changes to the TRI.