Maine is one of the states that oppose a new rule easing requirements on public disclosure.
ALBANY, N.Y. — Twelve states, including Maine, sued the Bush administration Wednesday to force greater public disclosure of data on toxic chemicals in communities.
The state officials oppose a new Environmental Protection Agency rule that allows thousands of companies to limit the information they disclose to the public about toxic chemicals they store, use and release into the environment, according to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
“The EPA’s new regulations rob … people across the country of their right to know about toxic dangers in their own back yards,” said Cuomo, the lead attorney general in the lawsuit. “Along with eleven other states throughout the nation, we will restore the public’s right to information about chemical hazards, despite the Bush administration’s best attempts to hide it.”
New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte said three-quarters of the New Hampshire companies that used to submit detailed information about their toxic releases are exempt from the mandate under the new rule.
“The rule would hinder state and local efforts to protect New Hampshire’s citizens from toxic releases. I will vigorously oppose EPA’s efforts to reduce public access to this critical information,” Ayotte said.
The new rule does not reduce the paperwork for companies that use the chemicals, said Thomas Burack, New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services commissioner.
“Companies must still gather the information to determine if they have exceeded the new thresholds and must then maintain that information in their files,” he said.
An EPA spokesman had no immediate comment.
The state officials said the EPA this year rolled back a regulation in the Toxics Release Inventory law, which required companies to provide long, detailed reports whenever they stored or emitted at least 500 pounds of specific toxins. Those reports have been made public.
The rule adopted this year requires that lengthy accounting only for companies that store or release at least 5,000 pounds of toxins. Companies that store or release between 500 and 4,999 pounds of toxins file an abbreviated form, said Katherine Kennedy, a deputy attorney general in New York.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New York City seeks to invalidate the EPA rule.
THE 12 STATES STATES suing the EPA are Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont.