By David Michaels
In a move that recognizes the post-election climate change in Washington, the EPA has told two Democratic Senators that it is revising plans to roll-back the reporting requirements of the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). In a post yesterday, I wrote about TRI as an important (and cost-effective) example of “Regulation by Shaming” or “Democracy by Disclosure.”
Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post obtained the letter EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson sent to New Jersey Democratic senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez in which he announced his plans. According to Eilperin, one of the nation’s best environmental reporters, this change
highlights how the political climate has shifted since the Democrats won control of the House and Senate. The administration is not likely to bend on its top environmental priorities, such as climate change, but it may make concessions on other fronts.
In a written statement, Senator Lautenberg said
Unlike the last six years, the Bush administration will no longer get a free pass from Congress… Democrats will now control the EPA’s budget and will run the committees that oversee the agency’s activities. EPA will be held accountable for every abuse and misreading of the law it engages in.
Senators Lautenberg and Menendez deserve our thanks (they had placed a hold on one of President Bush’s nominations to the EPA, to force the Administration to back down).
Thanks, also, to OMB Watch for leading the efforts opposing the TRI roll-back. EPA received more than 100,000 comments on their proposal. I am pretty sure that almost all opposed weakening TRI.
But it’s not over yet, and we can’t let up the pressure. Administrator Johnson has not revealed the changes he plans to make in the program, and an agency spokesperson told Eilperin the final rule will be announced by the end of the year.
David Michaels heads the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy (SKAPP) and is Professor and Associate Chairman in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.