Issue Date: October 15, 2007
EPA Rule Raises Concerns Of Environmental Justice
Many facilities that now can provide less information about their chemical releases due to a recent EPA rule are located in minority and low-income communities, triggering environmental justice concerns, according to a Government Accountability Office official. Under a rule EPA issued in late 2006, about a third of the roughly 24,000 facilities that file Toxics Release Inventory reports could switch to filing a shorter reporting form that does not require the facility to include the volume of the compound released or whether it is released to the air, water, or ground (C&EN, Jan. 1, page 10). John B. Stephenson, director of natural resources and the environment at GAO, said EPA claimed the rule would not impact poor or minority neighborhoods. Yet the agency "did not support this assertion with adequate analysis," Stephenson told the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Environment & Hazardous Materials on Oct. 4. This omission is significant, he said. Many facilities that can switch to the short form and provide less information on releases are in minority and low-income communities, meaning the rule could disproportionately affect these neighborhoods, Stephenson said.
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