EPA Reverses Bush-Era Toxics Release Inventory Blackout

April 22, 2009

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced April 21, 2009, that she had signed a rule restoring Bush-era cuts in the amount of information communities could get about industrial releases of toxic substances in their localities.

Congress had actually ordered EPA to roll back the Bush-EPA blackout in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, signed by President Obama on March 11, 2009. Jackson's April 21 rulemaking carried out that mandate. The rollback has not yet been published in the Federal Register.

In 2006, at the urging of some parts of the small-business lobby, EPA had eased the thresholds for detailed numeric reporting of the amounts of certain toxics released by industrial plants. Plants releasing less than the threshold amounts could use an easier "Form R" which did not require releases to be quantified. Still, plants would have to quantify their releases to determine whether they met the threshold. But many communities would get much less information about toxic releases nearby.

Twelve states sued EPA seeking restoration of the original thresholds.