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Schwarzenegger Signs Bill to Restore Full Toxics Reporting in California

Legislation Responds to EPA's Rollback of Federal Law

Contact: Bill Walker, EWG, 510-444-0973 x301, 510-759-9911; Peter Hartnett, Office of Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, 916-319-2021

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 16 /Standard Newswire/ -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed into law a bill to restore Californians' full right to know about chemical hazards in their neighborhoods.

Assemblyman Ira Ruskin of Redwood City introduced the bill (AB 833) in response to the Bush Administration's gutting of the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), which requires industries to annually report the use or release of 650 toxic chemicals. For more than 20 years, the federal TRI mandated disclosure of the use or release of at least 500 pounds of chemicals a year, but late last year the EPA raised the reporting threshold to 2,000 pounds.

The bill's passage was boosted by an Environmental Working Group (EWG) investigation that found the EPA rollback would eliminate reporting of almost 600,000 pounds of chemicals a year from 274 industrial facilities in 30 counties in California. In Los Angeles County alone, almost 250,000 pounds of chemicals would have no longer been subject to reporting.

"The TRI has been the number one tool for communities fighting pollution in their own neighborhoods," said Bill Walker, West Coast vice president of EWG. "EPA's rollback was a devastating blow, but Assemblyman Ruskin and Gov. Schwarzenegger realized how important it is to continue full disclosure."

"Toxics are a growing concern and people have a right to know about the emission of dangerous chemicals," Ruskin told the San Jose Mercury News. "Hiding information from the people is reprehensible. I am very pleased that the governor agrees."

In Washington, U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis of El Monte is co-sponsor of the Toxic Right to Know Protection Act which would restore full disclosure to the federal TRI.