TRENTON – A resolution sponsored by Senator Nicholas P. Scutari, urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to rescind proposed changes that would weaken the Emergency Community Planning and Right-to-Know Act, was approved today by the Senate Environment Committee.
“The ‘Right-to-Know’ standards have been an essential tool for notifying the public about the pollutants and toxic materials that industrial plants produce since they were adopted twenty years ago,” said Senator Scutari, D-Somerset and Union. “They have caused a substantial and sustained reduction in the amount of toxins these facilities are releasing into the environment.”
The measure, SR-36, is specifically concerned with the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) portion of the Right-to-Know Act. Under TRI, companies are required to provide the public with detailed reports on more than 600 designated toxic chemicals released into the environment. Currently, the reporting threshold is set at 500 pounds released per year; the Bush Administration’s proposed change would raise that threshold to 5,000 pounds a year. According to Senator Scutari, the change would exempt more than 23,000 facilities, many of which are located in New Jersey, from having to publicly disclose the toxic chemicals they release into the environment.
“Since 1986, releases of the 600 chemicals tracked by the TRI have dropped sixty percent. By raising the reporting threshold tenfold, we are taking a catastrophic step backwards,” said Senator Scutari. “Our communities are not served by relaxing these restrictions. Corporate polluters are.”
The measure now heads to the full Senate for consideration.