Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Forgive me another long one...

I received the following from The Waterkeeper Alliance this afternoon, and hope you don't mind me sharing. My response letter is below the original e-mail.

"Tell EPA Not to Cut the Toxic Release Inventory Program"

EPA wants to slash the information available to the public on toxic
releases of poisonous industrial pollutants. But before they can move
forward they must take and consider comments from the public. Waterkeeper
Alliance is submitting detailed legal and scientific comments, but
comments from individual citizens are also highly valuable for the process -
your action will show EPA that their stealth rollbacks and midnight
deals with polluters are being watched.

TOXIC RELEASE INVENTORY: EPA recently announced plans to dismantle the
Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), our nation's premier tool for notifying
the public out about toxic pollution releases. The TRI program tracks
the amount of toxic chemicals released into the air, land and water by
24,000 U.S. industrial facilities. The information enables citizens to
understand the risks to their communities and press companies to reduce
their pollution. But EPA is placing corporations ahead of community
safety with enormous rollbacks in TRI reporting.

WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS? Despite the success of this reporting
program, EPA claims the rollbacks are needed to reduce the paperwork burden on

WHAT ARE THEY DOING? EPA has proposed three changes, each of which
would leave citizens in the dark about dangerous pollution in their
communities. First, the rule changes will permit facilities to hide
information on the production of small amounts of persistent bioacculuative
toxins (PBTs), even thought these chemicals are highly dangerous even small
quantities because they persist in the environment and build up in
people's bodies. Second, changes will allow companies to pollute ten times
as much before being required to report the details about how much
toxic pollution was produced and where it went for non-PBT chemicals.
Third, EPA announced its intent to Congress that it wants to cut the annual
program in half by eliminating every other year of reporting.

Waterkeeper Alliance has submitted detailed comments to the agency and
a bipartisan group of Senators has called on EPA to leave the existing
program in place (reply to action@waterkeeper.org to receive a copy of
Waterkeeper Alliance and the Senate comments.)

Please use the suggested talking points to submit your comments to EPA
by Friday, January 13, 2006:

1) I strongly urge EPA to withdraw its proposed changes to the Toxics
Release Inventory program, our nation's premier tool for notifying the
public about releases of toxic pollution.
2) EPA must not restrict the public's access to information on toxics
releases. Supplying this information is not a "burden," it is good
business to look out for the health and safety of workers and communities.
The public has a right to all the information currently collected and
make public through this program.
3) EPA should not raise the triggering reporting threshold for non-PBT
chemicals from 500 pounds ten-fold to 5,000 pounds - these chemicals
are highly dangerous even in small amounts.
4) The alternate year reporting would deny citizens up-to-date
information about local toxic releases, reduce incentives to minimize waste
generation, and undermine enforcement of environmental laws.

Use the talking points above and your own comments in an email or
letter to fax or mail to EPA:

Identify your comments by Docket ID No. TRI-2005-0073
- Email Comments to oei.docket@epa.gov
- Or, Fax comments to 202-566-0741
- Or, Mail comments to Office of Environmental Information (OEI)
Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code: 28221I, 1200 Pennsylvania
Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20460. Attention Docket ID No. TRI-2005-0073

Comments must be submitted by January 13, 2006.

My response:

"Toxic Release Inventory Program" my thoughts on your proposal, please read!

My first reaction was "how dare you"! It's bad enough that so few people bother to find out what's really going on in their areas to begin with; to have you restrict the information only compounds the problem! In Kansas City, we've had sections of the Kansas River closed to fishing for years now, along with sections of the levees themselves that were made "no go" zones because of pollution from a company that used to manufacture Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. These are places that used to be open for recreation, both for fishing and for dune buggy and motocross bikes; today they would be wonderful for my mountain bike, if only they were safe!

If you gather the information to begin with, it's release is not a major expense. That is not an excuse or reason for changing any part of the reporting process.

Raising the reporting threshold for non-PBT chemicals at all is a criminal proposal. Just because they aren't PBT does not make them harmless; there are too many known repurcussions from these to allow any change to this threshold! I recently saw a photograph from a National Geographic photographer of children in a Moscow neighborhood all missing hands, on the same side, as a direct result of localized pollution. To allow even the possiblility of this happening here should be something so terrible to contemplate that a proposal like this should never even be thought of, let alone allowed to get this far into process!

As I said above, any change in reporting processes is not an option. You already have the data, making it available annually is not adding an unecessary burden to anyone except those who would use it to circumvent their responsibilities to the public either legally or morally.

My grandparents were Baptist Missionaries on the reservation systems in the Southwest and Oklahoma from the 1920's through the early 60's. Grandma used to point out that the Cherokee had a manta of not deciding anything until you thought of how it would impact your people for 7 generations. I have grandchildren, and hope to see them have children of their own before my life ends; I'd like them to grow up somewhere cleaner and safer than I did, not less so!

That was where I signed it and gave my name, address, and phone number.

I realize what file this will probably end up in (John Milner referred to it as C.S. in "American Graffiti") but I had to try to do something. If one or two of you can find time to write them it may help. I also forwarded a copy to my Congressman, just so he knew what I was up to, though being the only "blue" representative from a "red" state doesn't make things any easier for him.

Thank you all for reading if you got this far, and once again, forgive me the length of this!



sttropezbutler said...

Dear Alan..

Thanks, I was unaware that this was occuring.

In light of the tragedy unfolding in W. Virginia...with the continuing errosion of corportate resposibilty this is all the more chilling.

I've said it before. We have to continue to raise our voices. I have added mine!

Thanks again...


sjobs said...

Alan, Thanks for the heads up.

I agree with STB it is time raise our voices.


Dr. Deborah Serani said...

The post needed every word, so the length is not an issue. I also was unaware that this was happening. We need to get more rolling with this, I agree!