As the U.S. House of Representatives was poised for a possible floor vote this week on a measure to block EPA-proposed cutbacks to the Toxics Release Inventory, the Society of Environmental Journalists and other groups backed it.
EPA, at the urging of some industry groups, proposed in Sept. 2005 raising tenfold the thresholds above which companies must report the quantities of certain toxic chemicals they release to air, land, and water. The proposal would allow more companies to report their releases on the streamlined "Form A," which does not require disclosure of the amounts of chemicals released, transferred, or handled.
An amendment expected to be offered, probably May 18, 2006, to the 2007 Interior and EPA appropriations bill would bar EPA from spending any money to implement the proposal for a year. Its main sponsors are Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) and Hilda L. Solis (D-CA).
SEJ wrote key House members May 16 urging a vote on the measure and supporting it.
Six other journalism groups joined SEJ in this position and signed on to SEJ's letter. They included the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government, Society of Professional Journalists, American Society of Newspaper Editors, Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, California First Amendment Coalition, and the Washington Coalition for Open Government.
SEJ had previously opposed the EPA regulatory proposal, and a companion proposal that would change the frequency of reporting from once a year to once every two years.