For Immediate Release

February 6, 2007

Contact: Peter Rafle, Senate EPW

(202) 228-3102 dir./(202) 302-7086 cell

"Unwelcome Gifts" Included Weakened Pollution Rules, Less Information for Public


Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, told Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson that a series of policy changes he implemented late last year have weakened public health protections and made it more difficult for the public to access information about toxic chemicals in the environment.

"These EPA rollbacks have common themes," said Senator Boxer. "They benefit polluters’ bottom line, and they hurt our communities by allowing more pollution and reducing the information about pollution available to the public."

"EPA has gone too long without oversight. I want to send a clear signal to EPA and to this Administration. We are watching. The American public is watching. And no longer will EPA rollbacks quietly escape scrutiny."

said Senator Boxer.

"The pattern of these year-end actions is striking - the public interest is sacrificed, and environmental protection compromised. Who gains from these rollbacks? Just look at who asked for them, like Big Oil and the battery industry. EPA’s proposed actions make it clear who EPA is protecting. The purpose of this oversight hearing is to remind EPA who they are truly accountable to-the American people."

Today’s hearing, the first in a series to address oversight of the EPA, focused on six year-end actions.

1. EPA’s December 2006 decision to reverse itself by refusing to extend monitoring requirements for the toxin perchlorate, found in 20 million to more than 40 million Americans’ drinking water.

2. EPA’s December 2006 announcement that it is changing the process for setting National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), so as to reduce the role of EPA staff scientists and independent scientists, and to politicize the process.

3. EPA’s December 2006 announcement that it is considering eliminating the NAAQS for lead.

4. EPA’s December 2006 decision to reverse its policy on air toxics controls (the "once in always in" policy), so as to allow more pollution.

5. EPA’s December 2006 rule weakening the community right-to-know provisions of the Toxic Release Inventory, by substantially reducing information available to the public about many polluters’ emissions and toxics handling.

6. EPA’s recent policy of shutting down and severely restricting access to its libraries.

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