In its latest move to benefit corporate bottom lines, the Bush Administration is proposing gutting the nation's enviornmental right-to-know law.
The rule would mean thousands of companies nationwide would no longer have to provide the public with details of toxic chemicals they release into the environment. Under existing rules, facilities that release 500 or more pounds of toxic substances each year must reveal how much of each chemical is emitted into the air, discharged into waterways and taken to landfills or other disposal sites. Under the Environmental Protection Agency proposal, that threshold would be raised to 5,000 pounds.
Under the administraton's plan, 922 communities would lose all information from the national Toxics Release Inventory detailing emissions. The EPA will make a final decision on the proposal next year, after a public comment period that ends Jan. 13.
Savings to corporate America: $650 million.
Is it worth it? Only to corporate America.
"In individual neighborhoods, the difference between 500 pounds and 5,000 pounds is significant," Idell Hansen, Washington state's director of hazardous waste and toxics reduction, told the Los Angeles Times.
"If the proposed changes are adopted, EPA will be issuing a permit to poison," added Jan Pendlebury, director of the New Hampshire chapter of the National Environmental Trust, in an interview with the Concord (N.H.) Monitor.
Eighty-one local and national environmental groups appealed to Congress in a letter to urge the EPA to leave the inventory unchanged.
Kim Nelson, an assistant administrator at the EPA, said the companies that would benefit from the proposal are "tiny, tiny businesses, mom-and-pop shops operating on Main Street, that, in an aggregate, amount to less than 1 percent of the emissions in this country."
But like so many things the Bush Administration says about the enviornment, Nelson's words are empty conservative spin.