[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ Christie Todd Whitman

Enviro-Mich message from Bill Schillaci <aes@psn.net>

Governor Whitman has done a lot to improve the environment in New
Jersey.  She is also exceedingly friendly to business.  The following
story should illustrate.

Groups blast plan to relax toxic chemical reporting


By Anthony S. Twyman

 A Whitman administration proposal that would exempt about 80 companies
from detailed reporting of their use of toxic chemicals drew fire
yesterday from environmentalists and workers' rights advocates.

 Under the proposal, companies that use 1 million pounds or less of
toxic chemicals a year and produce up to 500 pounds of hazardous waste
would no longer have to submit plans to the state for reducing their
usage of those chemicals.

 At a public hearing in Trenton, representatives of a variety of worker
and environmental groups said the proposal would weaken the state's
Pollution Prevention Act, jeopardize the safety of workers, and even
tempt companies to hide waste chemicals in their products to avoid the
reporting requirements.

 ''I just see it as a significant step backwards," said Jane Nogaki,
chairwoman of the Right to Know Act Coalition.

 State officials and chemical industry representatives disagreed, saying
the proposal would cut bureaucratic red tape and provide an incentive
for companies to use less toxic chemicals, thereby reducing pollution.

 ''We feel that this proposal . . . would actually promote pollution
prevention in the state," said Melinda Dower of the state Department of
Environmental Protection's office of pollution prevention and permit

 Since 1991, companies that use benzene, chlorinated organics and other
toxic chemicals in New Jersey have been required to submit pollution
prevention plans to the DEP, setting goals for how they plan to reduce
the chemicals they use in their manufacturing processes.

 The plans require companies to outline every step a chemical takes as
it moves through the company's manufacturing process. These reports are
far more detailed than what is required under federal law or the state
Right to Know law, which would still require the companies to report
whether they have certain hazardous chemicals at their plants.

 The plans are designed to encourage companies to reduce their use of
toxic chemicals and to limit the amount of waste that comes out of
company smokestacks and pipelines.

 Currently, companies that use more than 10,000 pounds of toxic
chemicals are required to submit the plans. About 650 companies come
under this category. The proposed higher threshold would exempt an
estimated 80 companies.

 Scott Mackey, a representative for the state's Chemical Industry
Council, said it supports the rule change. "All it really does is let
you not put that chemical in your pollution prevention plan," Mackey

 Environmentalists disagreed, saying the proposal would water down the
right of the public and of workers to know the amount of toxic chemicals
a company uses in its manufacturing process and the amount of chemicals
that wind up in its products.

 Alicia Culver, senior research associate for Inform, a New York-based
environmental consulting group, said weakening the law would reduce the
pressure on companies to keep their overall use of toxic chemicals down.

ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"