Area Toxic Release Levels Fall but They Will Increase under New Expanded Reporting Regulations

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Missouri's and Illinois' toxic release levels declined this year, according to new EPA figures. Such reported releases soon may skyrocket under new rules.

The administration of President Bill Clinton on Wednesday proposed that the Community Right-to-Know law be expanded to require utilities, coal mines, waste incinerators and a total of seven new industries to disclose pollution.

All told, 6,400 plants from seven manufacturing sectors would be required to file about 37,000 new reports detailing any chemical they release into the air, land and water. Others industries to be covered include: metal mining, petroleum bulk terminals, chemical wholesalers and solvent recovery operations.

The requirements are expected to become final by the end of the year.

In declaring the new pollution reporting, the administration continued its emphasis on environmental protection, a topic viewed by the president's advisers as beneficial to his re-election effort. Vice President Al Gore announced the new rules at the Old Executive Office Building; in past years, the Environmental Protection Agency has handled similar reports.

"If you want more information about what pollution is being emitted into the places where you live, you have a right to know. And we're going to enforce that right to know," Gore said.

The new reporting requirements could cost manufacturers $120 million a year, EPA administrator Carol M. Browner acknowledged. That additional regulatory burden probably will stir opposition in the Republican-held Congress, which tried this year to cut money from the EPA program that enforces the right-to-know law.

The Edison Electric Institute, which represents many of the nation's electric utilities, argued Wednesday that utility companies are monitored u nder seven federal laws. Edison spokeswoman Linda Schoumacher said that utilities already are the most heavily monitored industry. The new reporting "only adds another layer of bureaucratic reporting without giving any new information to the American people," she said.

On the House floor, pro-disclosure forces led by Rep. Richard Durbin, D-Ill. …