The Environmental SourceCompetitive Enterprise Institute • www.cei.org • 202-331-1010
off site for recycling, incineration, treatment(such as in a water treatment facility), or land-fill disposal.
Regulatory and Legislative Activity
In October 2005, EPA proposed a couple of rules to reform the TRI and to reduce its regula-tory burden. One proposal would change thefrequency of TRI reporting, possibility shiftingto biannual rather than annual reporting.
An-other would allow more firms to report on ashorter form than under existing regulations.
Currently, the EPA allows expedited reportingon what it calls “Form A” for firms that handlefewer than 500 pounds of TRI-listed chemicals.The goal is to reduce the regulatory burden forfirms that “release” low levels of TRI chemi-cals. The EPA proposed allowing all firms thatproduce fewer than 5,000 pounds to use FormA, hoping to lift the TRI regulatory burden formore firms. According to the EPA, this changewould save firms 165,000 hours of paperworkpreparation time and still ensure that 99 per-cent of TRI releases would be reported on thelonger form.
These changes were designed to savefirms—mostly small businesses—time andmoney without significantly changing the qual-ity of data collected under TRI. EPA finalizedthe rule in December 2006, allowing firms toapply it to their emission reports covering that
70, no. 191 (October 4, 2005):57871–72.4.
70, no. 191 (October 4, 2005):57822–47.
5. EPA, “Toxic Release Inventory Burden Reduction—Fact Sheet: Reducing Burden While Ensuring PublicAccess to High Quality Information,” EPA, Washing-ton, DC, 2005, http://www.epa.gov/tri/tridata/modrule/ phase2/Fact_Sheet.pdf
year. EPA released the 2006 data in February2008, noting that TRI indicates that emissionshave gone down in most places, yet environ-mentalists questioned those findings becausethey maintain that the rule limited reporting.
In addition, some members of Congress haveproposed legislation to overturn the rule, and inNovember 2007, twelve state attorney generalscommenced a lawsuit challenging the rule.Despite all the political hype about the EPArule and TRI reporting, the law is actually notvery informative and its benefit are question-able as documented in subsequent sections of this brief.
TRI’s Regulatory Burden
TRI is often marketed as a low-cost program.But the burden placed on the private sector issignificant. For example, electric utilities haveto report on 30 chemicals—with a separate TRIform for each chemical and each plant.
Esti-mated total costs of the TRI program range upto nearly a billion dollars a year. The estimatedcosts of all EPA “right-to-know” regulationsfrom TRI, and various other programs, rangeup to $3.4 billion.
Individual examples indicate that the regu-latory burden is unreasonably high for some
6. Katherine Boyle, “Toxic Emissions Declined in2006,”
, February 22, 2008.7. J. Winston Porter,
Utilities and TRI: A Primer onElectric Utility Companies and EPA’s Toxics ReleaseInventory
(Washington, DC: Edison Electric Institute,March 1999), 2, http://www.eei.org/industry_issues/en-vironment/air/Toxics_Release_Inventory/primer.pdf.8. Alexander Volokh, Kenneth Green, and Lynn Scar-lett, “Environmental Information: The Toxics ReleaseInventory, Stakeholder Participation, and the Right toKnow, Part 1 of 2: Shortcomings of the Current Right-to-Know Structure,” Policy Study 246, Reason Foundation,Los Angeles, 1998.