Twelve states sued the Bush administration on Wednesday to force greater disclosure of data on toxic chemicals that companies store, use and release into the environment.
The state officials oppose new federal Environmental Protection Agency rules that allow thousands of companies to limit the information they disclose to the public about toxic chemicals, according to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the lead attorney general in the civil lawsuit.
The EPA this year rolled back a regulation on the Toxics Release Inventory law signed by President Ronald Reagan after the deadly Bhopal toxic chemical catastrophe in India in 1984, according to the states involved in the lawsuit. That law required companies to provide a lengthy, detailed report whenever they store or emit 500 pounds of specific toxins.
The new rule adopted this year requires that lengthy accounting only for companies storing or releasing 5,000 pounds of toxins or more. Companies storing or releasing 500 to 4,999 pounds of toxins would have to file an abbreviated form, said Katherine Kennedy, New York's special deputy attorney general for environmental protection.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New York City seeks to invalidate the EPA's revised regulations.
"The EPA's new regulations rob New Yorkers — and people across the country — of their right to know about toxic dangers in their own backyards," said Cuomo. "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."
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the EPA's action cripples a 20-year program that required companies to report the amount of lead, mercury and other toxins they released.
"Polluters can release 10 times more toxins like lead and mercury without telling anyone," he said.
An EPA spokesman had no immediate comment.
The other states suing the EPA are Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.