In 2006, as a response to terrorism concerns, the Bush administration reduced the amount of information that facilities storing and releasing smaller amounts of toxic chemicals had to submit to the federal government. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., who authored the portion of the 1986 law requiring toxics reporting, sponsored the provision, believing terrorism threats have been reduced enough to restore the public's right to know about chemicals in their air and water.
Officials from industries affected by the rule, who estimate they spend $650 million a year complying with the current reporting requirements, believed the changes adopted under Bush lightened their regulatory burden without jeopardizing public health. Companies using less than 5,000 pounds of toxic chemicals, or releasing less than 2,000 pounds, could use shorter, less detailed forms. Congressional auditors believed the change would have cut by a quarter the number of emissions reports the government receives each year.
New Jersey and 12 other states recently sued the EPA to restore the old reporting thresholds.
(AP, DenverPost.com, PolitickerNJ.com, OMB Watch)