Friday, March 10


Considering the Environmental Protection Agency's new rule allowing pesticide companies to turn more Americans into "lab rats for industry pesticide tests," lying to New Yorkers by telling them that their air was safe after 9/11, and other questionable actions undertaken during the Bush reign, perhaps the agency should change its name to the Environmental Pollutants Advocacy. The latest outrage is the EPA's proposal to weaken the Toxics Release Inventory program.

Congress developed this critical program in 1986, in response to the catastrophic deaths of thousands of people after a spill of toxic chemicals at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India. It has worked well since its inception, but the Environmental Protection Agency is now proposing three detrimental changes that could go into effect within the next year.

The first would relax the current annual reporting requirement and let companies make reports every other year instead; the second would allow polluters to release 10 times more toxic chemicals — up to 5,000 pounds annually — without disclosing the volume released or where the pollutants went; and the third would permit companies to conceal releases of up to 500 pounds annually of particularly dangerous toxic materials, like PCB's, lead and mercury, which can accumulate in people's bodies. All three changes effectively increase the amount of pollution that companies can emit without telling anyone.

The stated mission of the EPA is "to protect human health and the environment." Considering some of the agency's actions and proposals since Bush took office, I think it's fair to say that that mission has been distorted.

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