RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

Krill writes: "As the EPA analysis explains, the metal mining industry successfully sued to exclude from the inventory most toxics in waste rock. Consequently, beginning with the 2002 reporting year, more than one third of the metal mining industry's toxics - which are still released into the environment every year - go unreported."

The Berkeley Pit, a former open-pit copper mine located in Butte, Montana, is now a 'toxic tourist attraction.' (photo: extremeall.com)
The Berkeley Pit, a former open-pit copper mine located in Butte, Montana, is now a 'toxic tourist attraction.' (photo: extremeall.com)



Legal Loopholes Allow Industry to Hide Hazardous Chemical Releases

By Jennifer Krill, Earth Island Journal

07 January 12

 

esterday (Jan 5) the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its complete analysis of the most recent Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data. The data gives citizens information about toxic releases into air, water and land by mining companies and industrial facilities in and around their communities

The EPA analysis - of data released in October 2011 - indicates, as usual, that the metal mining industry is the nation's largest toxic polluter, responsible for 41 percent of all reported toxics in 2010, or 1.6 billion pounds. This has been the case ever since the metal mining industry was required to report its toxic releases in 1997. The industry accounts for the vast majority of toxic heavy metals and metalloids released such as:

arsenic (96% / 280 million pounds)

mercury (92% of mercury / 4.4 million pounds)

lead (86% / 538 million pounds)

But perhaps the most significant toxics releases by our mines and oil and gas companies are those not included in the TRI.

As the EPA analysis explains, the metal mining industry successfully sued to exclude from the inventory most toxics in waste rock. Consequently, beginning with the 2002 reporting year, more than one third of the metal mining industry's toxics - which are still released into the environment every year - go unreported.

If included in the 2010 reporting year, the metal mining industry would have reported a whopping 2.1 billion pounds of toxic waste and accounted for almost half of all toxics reported in the United States.

This is especially significant because - thanks to loopholes in the Clean Water Act and a recent Supreme Court decision - mining companies can dump toxics directly into rivers, lakes and streams.

Additionally, and unfortunately, one of the most serious threats to our nation's drinking water supply - toxic releases from oil and gas companies - is left unknown.

Unlike almost all other industries, oil and gas producers, who wield heavy influence in our nation's corridors of power, do not have to report toxic releases for most of their operations. They enjoy exemptions from requirements under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (the legislation authorizing TRI), or under any other federal statute - including the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The damage from this omission is increasing thanks to the shale gas boom enabled by horizontal hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Drilling for oil and gas now occurs in 34 states across the country, threatening the drinking water sources of tens of millions of Americans. Yet communities are in the dark because drillers don't have to report the toxics they release from the thousands of wells and compressors.

We need to close the loopholes that allow oil and gas industries as well as mining companies to pollute our land, air and water with impunity.

In the case of drilling for oil and gas, several individual states have begun to require disclosure of chemicals used in the process. But this is not enough. What we need, as the Toxics Release Inventory shows so well, is an easily accessible national database that allows comparison of toxic release across regions, industries and chemicals.

Federal reporting requirements allow communities to better judge the risks posed by toxics in their communities. And as a consequence, and as happened with mercury air pollution from gold mining, it allows those communities to exert pressure on both industries and government to require reductions in toxics releases.

Effective federal environmental oversight of resource extraction by all industries, oil and gas included, is necessary to protect communities and the environment. And that's what we should be demanding from our federal government.

Jennifer Krill, Program Director, EARTHWORKS. As program director at Rainforest Action Network, Jennifer Krill helped lead campaigns to protect old growth forests and break America's oil addiction. She is currently the executive director of EARTHWORKS, an advocacy group that focuses on the negative impacts of mineral and energy extraction.
e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

We are going to return to our original fully-moderated format in the comments section.

The abusive complaints in the comment sections are just too far out of control at this point and have become a significant burden on our staff. As a result, our moderators will review all comments prior to publication. Comments will no longer go live immediately. Please be patient and check back.

To improve your chances of seeing your comment published, avoid confrontational or antagonistic methods of communication. Really that is the problem we are confronting.

We encourage all views. We discourage ad hominem disparagement.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+11 # Kimberly999 2012-01-08 04:22
This is why lobbying should be restricted to non-profit organizations only. Our representatives have been bought.
 
 
+12 # Obwon 2012-01-08 06:59
Nice, really nice... Now we can drink and otherwise ingest Mercury and a host of other chemicals without having to be bothered with knowledge of having done so... Who said; "ignorance is bliss?"

Well, at least this creates more jobs in the medical industry. Of course, the medical industry is also at risk but who cares? Just as long as we have jobs and a healthy economy, who needs healthy citizens?

Bush saved us from the tyranny of peace and prosperity and the savage scourge of good health as well, a truly great man, eh? Right up there with RayGun.
 
 
+8 # mwd870 2012-01-08 07:10
"Effective federal environmental oversight of resource extraction by all industries, oil and gas included, is necessary to protect communities and the environment. And that's what we should be demanding from our federal government."

It should go without saying there will be effecive oversight to protect the environment. The federal government needs to enforce existing laws without exception.

Those responsible for the proliferation of "legal" loopholes - financial, industrial, or whatever - can just get out. They don't deserve to be in government. (I am really starting to hate the word "loophole.")
 
 
+9 # Kev C 2012-01-08 07:53
Makes little difference if they report the toxic emissions or not. They are still permitted to release toxic emissions regardless as to whether we know 'officially' or not.
What really needs to be happening is a total ban on all toxic emissions and no lobbying to get some 'off the books' allowed.
Until the people of the US grow a spine and stand up to these morons who are poisoning them they will be subjected to even more toxic emissions next year. Remember the corporations are constantly looking for ways to break the previous years record. After all what do points make?
Profit!
The more they pollute the less they spend on controlling it. Also it means they are producing more of whatever it is that causes this pollution during extraction, production and processing. Oh and don't forget the logistics side of the toxic taster. Fuel oil and diesel emissions are highly dangerous and long lived too.

The planet cannot keep soaking up the poisons so it stands to reason that maybe we should stop producing them.

99% of the population object to the 1% earning all the money. So how about they stop working for these morons for a week? They would soon come around to your way of thinking if they saw their profits collapsing. :)
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN