EPA relaxes industry pollution-reporting rules

In a holiday gift to industry, the U.S. EPA has relaxed rules on reporting toxic pollution. Under rule amendments approved yesterday, industrial plants will not have to file detailed public Toxic Release Inventory reports unless they spew 2,000 pounds of pollution or more, four times the previous limit, and they’ll face looser requirements for reporting on their most toxic emissions, including lead, mercury, and dioxin. “[This] rule makes a good program better,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock, with a straight face. EPA officials had considered upping the baseline to 5,000 pounds, and were originally going to let companies report every two years instead of annually, but backed off those changes after intense criticism. A mere 0.03 percent of 122,420 comments submitted to the EPA about the rule changes were in favor of them, according to advocacy group OMB Watch. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who plans to introduce legislation to disallow the rule changes, said, “The administration’s proposed changes are nothing more than a giveaway to corporate polluters at the cost of everyday Americans’ health.” But what’s new?